Nurse Susan, RN, BSN, is a familiar face around the South Holt R-1 School District. For 32 years she’s worked with students from preschool through 12th grade to promote student wellness. That’s included coordinating KidSight vision screenings for the district’s youngest students to prevent childhood vision loss and ensure kids are prepared to learn.
“If you don’t identify a vision problem early, a child could start to fall behind in school or be diagnosed with a learning disability,” said Susan. “Your primary grades are the foundation – birth to 3 is so critical for cognitive development, eye-hand-coordination, fine motor skills and visual tracking. Your eyes have to work with everything to succeed.”
Susan’s school has been working with KidSight technicians for several years to screen all of their preschoolers, kindergarteners, and some of the first graders. Walk-in screenings are also offered for those children who might not be in a preschool. Susan has gone above and beyond to help promote the KidSight screenings through the school website and local media and assist KidSight in following up with parents of referred children.
“This is great; they sit in the chair for 5-10 seconds and they are done. And it’s accurate,” said Susan. KidSight screens children as young as 6 months to identify the most common causes of childhood vision loss, free of charge.
“For us in a rural area, this is an outstanding program to have! I can tell you multiple success stories about where we caught kids early and I’ve seen a marked visual improvement,” said Susan. Without programs like KidSight, children in the school district who are at risk for vision problems might not get a full exam at the nearest eye doctor, at least 30 miles away.
Susan says she’s glad South Holt has the KidSight program as a resource because school nurses can do a visual assessment for a child but can’t check visual acuity with validity until age 2 ½-3 years of age. “My families have been very appreciative of the screenings – it doesn’t cost and you can pick up an eye problem that might otherwise go undetected,” said Susan.
After the screening, the child receives a packet with information for follow-up and a photo of their eyes so the doctor is aware of the potential vision issue. “The paperwork the KidSight program provides is user friendly and specific about what the problem is for when they go to the eye doctor,” Susan said.
Susan recommends setting up a free KidSight screening to all educators and childcare providers and encourages parents to take advantage of the program. “This is part of providing for the whole child – it’s taking the initiative and time to save a child’s sight so they can succeed in all aspects of their life.”