Saturday, September 22 , 2018, 4:29 pm | Fair 67º

 
 
 
 

SBHS Student Focuses Campaign on Early Vision Screening

Mason Lender Click to view larger
Mason Lender

Mason Lender, a Santa Barbara High senior, has created the organization Eyes for Success/Ojos para el Éxito and launched the Early Vision Screening is Vital Campaign to coincide with the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s August Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month.

The group is distributing materials and organizing educational outreach activities for the Santa Barbara community about the signs of early vision issues.

Materials cover the impact of early vision issues on development and learning, and how to access no-cost and reduced-cost vision screenings in the Santa Barbara area.

On Aug. 1, the group is releasing materials and a pamphlet detailing key signs of vision issues in early childhood, and lists free and reduced-cost local resources for vision screenings.

The group also is offering a bilingual children’s book called Eyes for Success; A Story About the Importance of Early Vision Screening that details the story of a young girl with undiagnosed vision problems who has a vision screening in school.

The book is written for children ages 4-8 and can be used as preparation for a vision screening or discussion after a vision screening. The book contains questions and answers for teachers and parents about vision issues in early childhood.

The pamphlet and book will be distributed to interested local pediatrician offices, neighborhood clinics, preschools, elementary schools, after-school programs and agencies that conduct vision screenings in Santa Barbara County.

The outreach project was established by Lender under the supervision of Dr. Mark Silverberg.

Lender first became aware of early vision issues when his cousin suffered from learning delays, anxiety and psychosomatic issues due to undiagnosed nearsightedness.

Lender was alarmed by the host of associated negative impacts the vision issue had on his cousin and surprised by how quickly they resolved once she used glasses to correct her nearsightedness.

He sought to understand more about early vision problems and learned his cousin’s story is not unusual. He discovered that children often don’t realize they can’t see well and it can be difficult for parents or teachers to note that the child is having issues.

The unrecognized vision issues can progress and may lead to later vision issues, learning issues, emotional problems and social issues, if not corrected early. Lender also discovered that undiagnosed vision issues are more common in minority and low-income populations.

He sought out Dr. Silverberg and organized a summer internship with him to explore ways to increase early vision screenings and parents’ follow-up in Santa Barbara.

Lender's hope was to help those in his community avoid the problems his cousin had faced due to her undiagnosed vision issue. The summer work with Dr. Silverberg continued over the next year and will culminate in the Early Vision Screening is Vital campaign in August.

Dr. Silverberg said the outreach efforts of Eyes for Success highlight “the clear message that early intervention can help save your child’s vision.”

He said, “Amblyopia [lazy eye] is the most common of visual impairments among children, affecting approximately 2 to 3 of every 100 children, and unless it is successfully treated in early childhood, it usually persists into adulthood.”

Dr. Silverberg urges parents and teachers to be proactive in looking for vision problems. “One of the key ways to prevent and treat amblyopia and other vision issues of childhood is early vision screening,” he said.

The Eyes for Success Organization, founded by Lender, is a group of high school students who meet with community agencies to spread the message that early vision screening is vital.

The group distributes materials it produces to local agencies and schools, volunteers to read the book it created to preschool and elementary school-age students, and assists at community health fairs and vision screenings.

Agencies or groups wishing to organize a reading of the book, request materials, or get more information can contact the group at [email protected] Parents who'd like to buy a copy of the book can visit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692133399/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_H5qwBbBTMC98X on Amazon.com.

— Ann Pieramici for Santa Barbara High School.

 

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