Julie is an incredibly sweet and kind 10 year old who has been wearing glasses for the past 3 years. Unfortunately, her family is uninsured and they have not been able to afford new glasses so Julie has been wearing the same pair for 3 years. In addition to having an outdated prescription, Julie’s glasses are bent and the lenses are scratched making it difficult to see out of them. The nurse at Julie’s school reached out to KidSight to see if there was anything that we could do to help. Through KidSight’s Vision Care Network, we were able to connect Julie with resources that provided a no-cost eye exam and a new pair of glasses.
We are working to build our Vision Care Network to help more children, like Julie, in the 2021-2022 school year. Barriers such as the cost of an exam and a lack of insurance hinder parents from seeking vision care for their children. We know that children in low-income homes have an increased risk of vision loss and untreated vision impairment. In fact, a child living below the federal poverty line has almost double the risk of being visually impaired compared to a child living at 200% of the federal poverty line or higher. KidSight has recently connected with several local and national organizations to help families overcome the many hurdles they face when seeking vision care for their child.
Thanks to our partnership with the Essilor Foundation, we are able to provide a no-cost pair of glasses for children who have already had an eye exam (within the last year). We are also able to fill the gap when a child’s glasses break and insurance will not cover a 2nd pair – or the family cannot afford a replacement. We are working with Prevent Blindness and National Vision to distribute vouchers that will allow uninsured, school-aged children to see an eye doctor at no cost. Additionally, we are working with local Lions Clubs and kid-friendly eye doctors to make sure that our preschool-aged kids are able to receive the care that they need after a referral.
As we strive to bridge the gap, we are also building partnerships to ensure that we are serving the most needy populations. One of those partnerships is with the medical students and Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology at the University of Missouri. Jackson Voss is a third year medical student at the University of Missouri who connected with KidSight in hopes of making an impact in the community. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I think that’s especially true when you prevent a 6 year old from going blind and they live until they’re 90. That’s a long time to improve someone’s quality of life and something pretty amazing about KidSight.” In addition to forming a student based screening team, Jackson also started a research project looking at KidSight data to find referral trends and pinpoint areas of need across the state. He said, “I think that working together is a great opportunity for both KidSight and the state of Missouri. If we can get a better idea of which kids have a higher risk of having eye issues we can focus more efforts in those locations and make a bigger impact in kids lives.” Jackson and his peers are still analyzing the data to look for trends. We are excited about their work and will share the results at a later date!
KidSight is actively seeking partners and sponsors to help more children access vision care in Missouri. If you or your organization would like to partner with us, click here.