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Children's Vision & Learning Month

Governor Jay Inslee Proclaims August 2023 as Children’s Vision and Learning Month.

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Alan Pearson

Children's Vision and Learning Month

  • July 27, 2023

Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed August, 2023 as Children's Vision and Learning Month. "It is a time for parents, educators, and school nurses to take the necessary steps to ensure Washington's children have good vision" You can help too.

Near Vision Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to pioneer school optometry. In the 2022-2023 school year our EYE See Clinic conducted over 73 mobile vision clinic events to schools, performed more than 1574 eye exams, and fitted more than 1200 children with needed eyeglasses so that they can learn and benefit from their education. Many of these children don’t have any insurance, not even Medicaid. School nurses see the same children failing their vision screenings year after year without any solution. We see many middle school students for their first eye exam who needed eyeglasses way back in Kindergarten! Please help ensure WA kids have good vision for learning. Donate today!

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It all started in the Yakima Valley

In 2010-2013 the Yakima Valley of Washington State was ablaze with concerns due to the lack of access to vision screenings, eye exams, eyeglasses, and treatment for vision issues impacting children.

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This concern was especially expressed in the area’s Native American and migrant communities.

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In 2014, the first Educating Young Eyes (EYE) symposium convened at the University of Washington Bothell and was attended by teachers, school nurses, attorneys, Washington State Supreme Court judges, politicians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and concerned citizens across our State representing a wide range of diverse communities. The goal was to understand the issues and explore what could be done next. Another symposium occurred in 2016 and then again in 2019.

Just before the pandemic the EYE Research Group at the University of Washington Bothell received a grant to build a mobile vision clinic to serve the vision needs of WA State children. Due to the pandemic it took longer to construct our mobile clinic than anticipated, and we operated our first mobile clinic events in the 2022-2023 school year. Near Vision Institute was founded to operate the mobile clinic and provide the clinical care.

We have visited diverse communities across Washington State.

Twenty-five percent of school children have vision issues that impact learning according to Washington Board of Health. Vision issues may include high refractive errors, amblyopia, strabismus, ocular health, and near vision dysfunctions such as convergence insufficiency. Ideally, the first four categories are identified early in the birth to five age through regular well-child pediatric visits and eye exam referrals. School vision screenings can function as a backup if vision issues are missed early on.

The last category - near vision dysfunction - generally emerges as a child encounters the extensive vision demands of academics. School screening should be sensitive for this condition. Furthermore, an effective screening should be connected to an established and evidence based intervention.

Near vision dysfunction is not only a problem for students. Increasingly, jobs require a full day's work staring at a computer screen at near distances. Worker productivity is negatively impacted by near vision dysfunctions.

Research supported by the EYE Research Group in collaboration with Near Vision Institute revolves around questions concerning near vision function, and effective treatment protocols that are accessible and economical. Such research must be applied and proven within communities of need. Thus, it is essential that the EYE See Clinic provides services to children in order to measure results and iteratively improve systems of screenings, evaluations, and interventions.

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Alan Pearson

Dr. Alan Pearson has 30 years clinical experience evaluating and treating visual and perceptual dysfunctions impacting learning, development, reading, dyslexia, attention deficits, strabismus, amblyopia, and visual integration. He has been involved in research and development associated with curriculum development, interdisciplinary collaboration, and integrative treatment approaches.

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