Early vision screening vital to classroom success

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Kids at Kirkmere Elementary in Youngstown had the chance to make sure they are seeing the world clearly.

The Ohio I See program came to visit Tuesday. About 80 students were screened for vision problems.

The program is hosted by volunteers, with two optometrists who travel the state to check the eyes of kids in need.

Tracy Needham, president of the Ohio Optometric Foundation, said she would like to see eye exams required before kids enter kindergarten.

“If the kids are not able to read, if they are not able to see the board, they are not going to be able to do well on their exams,” said Needham. “They may not graduate when they get older. This has a lifelong impact.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan heard about the program and helped bring it to Youngstown. He’s hoping to get it in more schools around the Valley.

“Fifty percent of those kids don’t follow up and actually get those glasses when we know they need them,” said Ryan. “I think this program fills that gap and really changes the course for those kids who seemed like they were failing, but they couldn’t see.”

One in four kids has vision problems and many times they go undetected. Even if the problem is caught by a school nurse, about half never make it to an eye doctor. The lack of professional intervention can cause problems in the classroom.

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