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EYE See Clinic Story

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Alan P Pearson OD PhD FCOVD

August 15, 2021

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.

This concern was especially expressed in the area’s Native American communities. Two publications, one by the Americorps Child Vision Project and the other a University of Washington Master Thesis by Barbara Obena, MPH highlighted the social injustice of undetected near vision dysfunctions, such as convergence insufficiency, impeding student learning and achievement. Two community members, Helen Spencer and Katie Johnson, brought this concern to the University of Washington, Bothell. The project became a central research and development effort by CSS and Interactive Media Design students and continued to make significant progress each year.


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William Erdly PhD

Concerned citizens approached Professor William Erdly PhD, Chair of the Computing and Systems Science division at the University of Washington Bothell (UWB), to see if computer science students at the university could explore technologies that might assist in school screenings and treatment of near vision disorders.

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Alan Pearson OD PhD FCOVD

Alan Pearson OD PhD joined Professor Erdly and students as a volunteer advisor of the new Children’s Vision Research Group. Dr. Pearson has been providing evaluation and therapy for near vision dysfunction for over 25 years. Dr. Pearson is also a software developer and has created the core of the EYE Toolbox system. Dr. Pearson now serves as the Near Vision Institute's Executive Director.


2014 Educating Young Eyes Symposium

In 2014, the first Educating Young Eyes symposium convened at the university 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.

2016 Educating Young Eyes Symposium

The second Educating Young Eyes symposium occurred in the fall of 2016 and Professor Erdly and Dr. Pearson continued to collaborate on Children’s Vision Learning & Technology, at UWB. The group's mission was dedicated to service, research, development, and learning. The group was focused on systemic change transforming the lives of children throughout the world. The goal was to increase awareness and provide access to all communities about the importance of functional vision in children’s learning. The group sought to understand needs, develop tools, deliver care, measure results, and teach others.

Senate Bill 6245 Passed

As a result of the connections made at our symposium and other related efforts, the Washington State legislature ultimately passed Senate Bill 6245 (in 2016) mandating that all public schools screen for near vision issues in addition to distance vision.

2019 Mobile Vision Clinic and Technology Grants

The EYE Group at UWB was awarded two grants from the SEVA Foundation. One to build a mobile vision clinic to serve vision needs in WA State Native American communities. And the second grant to support further development of our EYE Toolbox software system.

2020 A Year to Pause and Reflect

When COVID hit in 2020 further maturation of the EYE Group at the university was slowed.

But this did give us time to reflect on our mission and the best way forward. And, with obvious near vision dysfunction surfacing with online school and work from home, the past few year's experience has charged our passion that our organization is needed like never before.

2021 Near Vision Institute incorporated

In May of 2021 we formed Near Vision Institute, a nonprofit corporation, in order to create the infastructure and operations necessary to provide clinical services through our EYE See Clinic, that will operate Mobile Vision Clinic trips throughout WA State.

Near Vision Institute also owns and operates the EYE Toolbox and EYE Education units.

The name EYE Research Group was adopted to recognize the research and development work completed by the EYE Group involving Professor Erdly, Dr. Pearson, and students at the University of Washington Bothell.

2022 Mobile Vision Clinic Services Begin

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In 2022 we completed two systems for mobile vision clinic services. A tent system that can be set up in a school gymnasium, and a trailer system that can function outdoors.

Trips began in May and we completed over 115 eye exams. More than 75% of the students we examined needed eyeglasses.


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 division of 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.

There are four essential pillars sustaining the mission of NVI:

  • The EYE See Clinic - providing evaluations and treatment services in WA State. Serving as a model.
  • The EYE Toolbox - a cloud based software as a service toolkit for addressing near vision dysfunction and other vision issues.
  • EYE Education - Sponsoring conferences, workshops, and online learning on near vision issues and best practice interventions.
  • EYE Research Group - Collaboration with Students, Faculty, and Researchers at the University of Washington Bothell.

Together, these four pillars present a comprehensive research activity system that fosters an agile and iterative cycle of public knowledge generation towards more effective solutions.

Near Vision Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit

In 2022-2023 we look forward to providing over 100 mobile clinic event days in WA State, helping more than 2000 children to see!