Little Bear Pre-school student Autumn Roberts, 4, sat on a stool facing the camera. She was somber, staring straight into the lens which happened to be a smiley face. She wasn’t asked to smile, she was just asked to keep her eyes wide open.
The Nederland Lions’ Club members visited Little Bear Preschool and Caribou Preschool last week conducting free vision screening. They were just one of many Lions groups throughout Colorado which tested children ages 2-6, looking for vision problems among the youngsters.
The Colorado Kidsight Program is an easy, free way to find out if your child needs vision treatment. Nederland’s Lion Club president Fran Bauer administered the test using a Welch Allyn SureSight screener, a vision-screening device that is 85-90 percent accurate in detaching vision problems. It takes a couple of minutes, requires no preparation or medication and is painless.
The screener focuses on the child’s pupil and can record problems such as lazy eye, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, misaligned eyes and unequal refractive power. The camera shows a diagram of the eye and indicates a pass or a referral. When further testing is needed, a sound like a siren goes off, alerting the operator.
These early years of a child’s life are critical in the development of good vision and sometimes preschoolers need correction with eyeglasses. Children are often able to compensate for vision problems, and parents, teachers and pediatricians are sometimes unaware of a problem. If let go for too long, by primary grades, many common conditions can no longer be effectively treated, which can lead to poor academic performance, low sells-esteem, limited social and sports involvement and behavioral problems. Seven out of 10 juvenile delinquents have an undiagnosed vision problem, according to statistics.
Once a child has been tested, the results are sent to the KidSight Director for analysis which will be available in two to three weeks. If there is a problem, the information will be sent to the child’s school and then on to the parents with information about assistance.
The Lions’ testers recounted an instance when a significant difference was discovered in the pupils of a student and further testing revealed a brain tumor that might have gone undiscovered. About 3,200 preschoolers were tested in Boulder County, Denver and private schools.
Parents must complete a consent form prior to the screening.