School districts throughout Stone and Taney counties are now equipped with some of the latest technology to quickly and confidently identify student vision issues. During a special event today, Skaggs Foundation distributed 14 Plusoptix Vision Screeners to local school districts.
“We are so grateful to the Skaggs Foundation for the donation of these vision screeners for our students,” said DeAnna Newberry, RN and head of health services for the Branson School District. “These devices will provide us with better tools to perform a more thorough eye exam on our youngest students and allow us to diagnose areas of possible deficiencies. These screeners are game-changers for all of us in our mission to provide the best for our students.”
The Plusoptix Vision Screeners provide objective results at the time of screening which will allow school nurses to make immediate referrals if necessary.
“Approximately 80 percent of sensory information children receive comes through the visual process,” explained Pam Ruhoff, of Plusoptix. “Therefore, the attention we give to appropriate vision screening is critical for a child’s healthy and successful development. The Plusoptix Vision Screener has helped school nurses efficiently and effectively vision screen children for risk factors that may lead to Amblyopia, otherwise known as Lazy Eye.”
In less than one second with the child about three feet away, the school nurse will be able to conduct a fully contact-less screening of children as young as 5 months old screening for: Myopia (nearsightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness), Anisometropia (unequal refractive power), Gaze Symmetry or Strabismus (misalignment of eyes), Anisocoria (pupil size differentiation), and Astigmatism (blurry vision caused by irregular shape of the cornea).
Skaggs Foundation first learned about the technology when Hollister school nurse Mary Blackwood requested a Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant to purchase one of the devices.
“It’s exciting to have this kind of technology available to us,” Blackwood said. “If a child cannot tell the difference between a “T” and an “F,” for example, it’s going to greatly impact their learning.”
After learning more about the equipment, Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grants Committee made the decision to move forward with purchasing the devices for every public school district in Stone and Taney counties.
“We are absolutely honored to be able to provide this kind of equipment to our local schools,” said Grants Committee Chairman Nita Jane Ayres. “When we think about how this will not only help nurses do their work more efficiently and effectively, but about the children whose vision issues might go undetected by the eye chart screening method, we knew we needed to get these into all of the districts.”
Funding for the vision screeners was made possible through Skaggs Legacy Endowment. Skaggs Legacy Endowment was created in 2013 by a generous gift from CoxHealth. Since the endowment was established, Skaggs Foundation has awarded more than $5.9 million to organizations dedicated to improving health and wellness in Stone and Taney counties.