Detecting vision troubles at an early school age

May 17, 2017

Student vision is an important component to their academic success.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the Lions Club International has completed eye screenings at all Buffalo Public Elementary Schools.   

“And how old are you,” asked a Lion Club volunteer. “Six,” responded Remi Hatrick, a kindergartner at Discovery School in south Buffalo.Hatrick was among the more than 250-students in pre-K through second grade who had their vision checked Tuesday through the Lions Club free vision screenings program. Michael Lawkowski is a district governor with the Lions Club.

Remi Hatrick, a kindergartener at Discovery School, gets her eyes checked by Michael Lawkowski, district governor with the Lions Club.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

"Typically across the entire city of Buffalo, and this school is no different, it’s about a 20-percent referral rate. One out of every five children in that age group, pre-K through second grade, needs some sort of vision care and that’s what we are detecting.  

Lawkowski uses a Spot Vision Screener, a hand held device that looks like he's simply taking a photo of the child. The device immediately registers the child's vision. 

Lions Club uses a Spot Vision Screener to immediately registers the child's vision.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“Which gives us a very accurate reading of their eyes and gives them a referral then to an eye doctor,” Lawkowski explained.

“And if they don’t have the vision they’re not going to have the proper tools to be educated,” described Susan Budzinski, school nurse at Discovery.

Budzinski will follow up with letters to parents whose child 'failed' the screening.

“It is imperative that they have the vision for everything – they talk about colors, they have to look at the white board for their lessons,” remarked Budzinski.

“We have a lot of students, that unfortunately their parents, because of financial reasons, cannot get their kids out to those vision checks,” said Dave Thomas, principal.

Inside nurses office at Discovery School in south Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Thomas said finding vision troubles at an early age is key to student learning.

“I am glad they are doing the younger age so we know because if they find out by seventh and eighth grade – they’ve already lost many years of education,” Thomas noted.   

The Lions Club does offer support for the uninsured or under-insured in buying eye glasses. The organization is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year continuing its mission of assisting the blind and visually impaired.

The Lions Club has screened close to 14,000 school students across four counties of Western New York this school year.