Delaware News

Free eye care could help some struggling students


The Delaware City School District has partnered with the Lions Club to make sure no child struggles in school due to lack of proper eyewear.

The Gift of Sight, a new program this year, is helping more than 80 students from the Delaware and Buckeye Valley school districts to receive vision care and glasses as needed.

Eye-care professionals and school nurses set up a mobile vision center Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 4 and 5, at the District Technology Center, 621 Pennsylvania Ave., and have provided bus transportation to and from schools for students who have needs.

The Lions Club, whose mission statement is to provide vision care to those in need, has offered to purchase glasses for students who do not have medical insurance or a way to receive a proper eye exam.

Eileen Duffy, a Willis Intermediate School nurse and one of the organizers for the Gift of Sight, said all students were screened by a school nurse before coming to the mobile vision center.

Duffy said these students' parents have had a hard time accessing a doctor and may not have the insurance to cover an office visit.

"We had a family come in who doesn't have insurance and could barely make their utility and house payments," she said. "The family had three children that needed glasses."

Duffy said all third-graders are expected to be able to read and concentrate, but some students have trouble because they can't see properly.

"The ability to see directly impacts the students' ability to understand what they are reading and affects all subject areas in school," she said.

One in every four students experiences a visual difficulty that results in them struggling in school, and 80 percent of disabled students have vision impairments, Duffy said.

Students are supposed to have an annual eye exam, but many of the students who arrived at the mobile vision center had never seen an eye doctor, she said.

"Some of the issues students are experiencing weren't picked up by the screening with the school nurse," Duffy said. "Students still reported they had blurred vision, headaches and difficulty reading, even though they appeared to not have a vision problem."

Students who went to the mobile eye center and need glasses will receive their new glasses at their school before the end of the year.

Duffy said Delaware is a "can-do" community and is excited about the opportunity it has to provide glasses to students whose families don't have insurance.

"It's one creative way to provide a resource to our students," she said. "I have begun to ask myself, 'What other services can we provide to Delaware students?' "