School Vision Program Spotlight: Alice Merritt

All-About-LOFK-6-29-18-1-updated-forwebsite_1.jpgThe general public thinks “good vision is the ability to see small letters on a chart.” And, even though there is some truth to this statement, good vision also encompasses: the ability to see small details (clarity); the ability to read or use the eyes for long periods of time without fatigue (comfort); and the ability to analyze and interpret visual input (processing skills.) All three of these abilities help children succeed in and out of the classroom.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), nearly 80 percent of learning occurs through the visual system.

“A child cannot be successful in school without good vision,” said Dr. Brandy Scombordi, pediatric optometrist and coordinator of The Eye Institute’s (TEI) School Vision Programs.

Every year through the School Vision Program, TEI’s vision care team works collaboratively with school nurses in Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Delaware County school districts to provide comprehensive vision care and prescription glasses to children who need it most.

“It always surprises me the impact a pair of glasses can have on a student,” said Dr. Scombordi.”But a student’s success in school will help them to become a successful adult and contributing member to the community.”

Quality vision care can make all the difference in a child accomplishing his or her goals. Alice, 12, a seventh grader at Abington Junior High School, knows that first-hand.

Alice MerrittAlice wants to be a hairstylist but prior to receiving her glasses from TEI, that goal seemed nearly impossible.

“The world was blurry and I couldn’t even see five feet away from me,” she said. “I did have one other pair of glasses before this but they did not work very well.”

Using the Mobile Vision Care Unit, TEI’s vision care team provided care for more than 70 students in the Abington School District during the 2017-2018 year alone. Affectionately known as the “Big Red Bus,” the mobile unit includes all the essential equipment needed to complete a comprehensive vision exam.

Students, like Alice, were given a comprehensive eye exam and were later fit with two pairs of glasses – one for home and one for school.

"The people from Salus were really helpful and nice – and it was pretty cool to get an eye exam on a bus,” said Alice.

For Alice, having her glasses have made a world of a difference – and have brought her one step closer to accomplishing her goals.

“I started wearing my glasses and now I can see everything,” she said. “I just want other kids to know that if you can’t see anything and the world is blurry, just tell your parents and they can make an eye doctor’s appointment for you.”

Salus University’s annual “Looking Out for Kids” (LOFK) charity fundraiser which was originally established in 2007 helps to fund this program and others like it throughout Philadelphia and beyond. This year’s fundraiser will be held tomorrow at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue hotel. Donations can also be made any time of the year online.