Gainesville Eye Associates partnered with Prevent Blindness Georgia for the third time to provide 58 children throughout Hall County with free eye exams and 47 glasses to help them succeed in the classroom.
When Gainesville Eye Associates and Prevent Blindness Georgia hosted their first clinic in Hall County, the eye screening team found that the vision testing failure rate was far above the national average, with Hall County children failing 23 percent of vision screenings compared to 8-10 percent of children nationally. Additionally, many of the children in Hall County faced greater barriers to eye care follow-up and needed extra support. All of the children who attended the recent clinic had all failed an earlier screening conducted by trained vision screeners from Prevent Blindness Georgia and Hall County School System nurses at local schools.
“It’s hard for children to communicate that they’re having eye problems and it gets even harder for them to explain it when there are pre-existing language barriers,” says Dr. Lori C. Lebow, an ophthalmologist at Gainesville Eye Associates.“All children, even without signs of trouble, should have their eyes checked at regular intervals. Leaving them unchecked can set them up for more serious and debilitating eye problems as adults that become much harder for us as eye doctors to fix.”
The most common vision disorders amongst children are refractive errors— myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism (blurry vision at all distances). In many cases, symptoms of vision problems such as inattention in the classroom or difficulty learning to read are often mistaken by parents and teachers for behavioral problems or learning difficulties.
In 2021, Prevent Blindness Georgia’s program vision screened nearly 9,000 Hall County children in kindergarten through fifth grades in all of Hall County’s 20 elementary schools. Of the children screened, 1,664 needed further assessment and their families were referred to a clinic hosted at Gainesville Eye Associates for a more in-depth eye exam. At the last clinic in 2021, 27 percent of the children who attended had never seen an eye doctor before coming to the clinic and attended after receiving an initial screening through Prevent Blindness Georgia. On average, Prevent Blindness Georgia’s team of certified professional vision screeners tests approximately 40,000 young children in a typical school year.