Annual vision screenings in Oregon have come a long way from the traditional process of reading letters from a chart aloud.
For most school districts in Oregon, including North Clackamas, the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLHSF) has been instrumental in modernizing the vision screening process by deploying new "spot vision cameras."
While the traditional Snellen eye chart, as it's known, only tests for distance (farsightedness), the spot vision cameras can detect five more common vision problems, including nearsightedness (myopia), unequal refractive power between one's eyes (anisometropia), astigmatism, pupil size deviation (aniscoria), and gaze deficiency, plus a handful of additional issues.
The spot vision cameras shine a faint light onto the eyes from about 3 feet away, and then automatically record the measurements. This technique is preferable because it's more comprehensive and eliminates many of the issues associated with the Snellen eye chart, such as communication barriers for students with special needs, or who speak other languages.
"As long as students can open their eyes and look at the camera for just a few seconds, we can screen them," said Kaitlin Anderson, OLHSF lead screening coordinator.
The cameras also have made a previously laborious process relatively quick and easy for school nurses, who work with the OLHSF to screen an entire school in just a few hours.
"It used to take us weeks or months," said Claire Davis-Thran, NCSD school nurse. "Now, we're screening a whole class in about five minutes."
Anderson said members of the Milwaukie Lions club often volunteer to help students feel at ease, and NCSD makes the screenings a learning opportunity by having students from the Sabin-Schellenberg nursing program administer the tests.
"We've had testimonials from parents about how eye-opening it was for them to learn their kid had a problem but nobody knew it," Milwaukie Lions Club President Tom Hammond said. "It's very worthwhile."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.