School Vision Health Month 2017

Celebrating New York's first-ever School Vision Health Month

In October 2017 the State of New York celebrated its first-ever School Vision Health Month, which started with a resolution passed by the State Legislature earlier this year to draw attention to the critical role vision plays in children’s academic success and their physical, cognitive and social development. The NYSOA is proud to have served as a leading supporter of School Vision Health Month, working closely with our friends and partners at the New York State Board of Regents, Department of Education, and VSP Global to raise awareness and provide resources to children in need.

The highlight of this inaugural campaign was a series of school-based one-day mobile clinics organized in conjunction with the VSP Mobile Eyes Program. The Mobile Eyes Program is an extension of VSP Global’s charitable arm, Eyes of Hope®, which supports local communities around the globe through initiatives that provide access to eye care, eyewear, education, and disaster relief. VSP Mobile Eyes features deluxe eye care clinics on wheels, staffed by volunteers and outfitted with exam rooms, dispensaries, and optical finishing labs.

Over twenty NYSOA members volunteered their time and expertise to provide exams, some traveling significant distances to reach schools in remote rural areas of the state. The majority of students who needed glasses were able to take theirs home with them that very day. Although more complicated prescriptions were required to be sent off site, VSP and the State Education Department are coordinating with the NYS Society of Opticians to ensure those students receive proper fittings when their glasses are ready.

Another exciting feature of this program was the additional involvement of VSP’s Sight for Students gift certificate program. Each school that hosted a mobile clinic also received a number of gift certificates to ensure that any child not able to get an exam during the clinic would still have no-cost access to quality eye care and new glasses through a local VSP network doctor.

Research shows that one in four school-age children has a vision disorder, which impacts his or her ability to properly learn. While all public schools provide vision screenings and referrals to eye care specialists as needed, for some students cost and access can create major barriers to obtaining the care they need. During the mobile clinics our volunteer ODs encountered a number of cases of amblyopia and strabismus that had not been recognized or diagnosed by other health care providers, further underscoring the limitation of vision screenings and the crucial need for comprehensive eye care.

The American Optometric Association recommends that children see an eye care professional at six months, three years and around five years old. After that, an eye exam should be scheduled at least once a year.

We truly appreciate the dedication and commitment of the NYSOA members who volunteered at the mobile clinics and helped us highlight the critical role that vision plays in a child’s ability to learn and develop in an academic setting. We look forward to building on the success of this inaugural program and creating new opportunities to expand this campaign next year and beyond. With the support of NYSOA members, we can involve new partners and seek to reach an even broader population of students across the state.


School Vision Health Month by the Numbers

Schools Visited: 6

Volunteer ODs: 23

Students who received exams: 152

Free glasses provided: 94

Sight for Students gift certificates left behind: 250

NYSOA Member Volunteers

Matt Allen, OD
Edward Berger, OD
Jeff Calhoun, OD
Adrienne Cassata, OD
Dawn Chivers, OD
Dave Ciccone, OD
Chris Colburn, OD
Alex Crinzi, OD
Carrie Cutre, OD
Kimberly Dobrodziej, OD
Kara Gibbs, OD
Dave Girardi, OD
Caitrin Herdic, OD
Punit Jain, OD
Dan Kirchheimer, OD
George Mitsoglou, OD
Michael Mortimer, OD
Alyssa Putman, OD
Pollyanna Roach, OD
Chris Shiomos, OD
Elizabeth Stevens, OD
Maureen Wallen, OD
Heidi Ying, OD

Clinic Sites

Oct. 5: Prospect Elementary School, Salamanca, NY
Oct. 6: Seneca Intermediate School, Salamanca, NY
Oct. 10: Minoa Elementary School, Minoa, NY
Oct. 11: Waverly Central School District, Waverly, NY
Oct. 13: Northern Adirondack Central School District, Ellenburg, NY
Oct. 16: Fort Edward Union Free School District, Fort Edward, NY

Media Coverage

WBFO – Free eye exams at East Aurora, Salamanca Schools
Plattsburgh Press Republican - Northern Adirondack students to get free eye exams, glasses – Free eye exams for some NY schools
NYSUT – School eye exams unveil problems