Article Date: 5/1/2012

There's No Sense Like Sight
reflections

There's No Sense Like Sight

Kansas team creates program for children.

Joseph H. Maino, O.D., F.A.A.O., KANSAS CITY, MO.

KanLovKids serves Kansas' legally blind and vision-impaired children.

Atotal of 1,054 school-age Kansas children have uncorrectable vision loss, says the Kansas Instructional Resource Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Also, 89% of Kansas is farmland, requiring several of these children to travel two or more hours for basic healthcare and even longer for specialized care, such as low vision rehabilitation.

Due to these circumstances, Anne Nielsen, Ph.D., the Kansas State School for the Blind's outreach coordinator, and Beverly Nichols, Ph.D., Kansas Lions Vice District Governor, and I decided to develop a program to ensure these children received pediatric low vision rehabilitation services.

The program

The program we created was built on previous work accomplished with the Kansas State School for the Blind's help, the use of previous Kansas Lions grants and the Kansas Optometric Association's help. It includes eight components:

(1) The development of ten regional sites for secondary low vision rehabilitation clinics.
(2) Arming these sites with low vision equipment.
(3) Training for O.D.s and M.D.s and their staff to provide low vision services.
(4) Providing a “lending library” of various electronic devices, such as small hand-held video magnifiers, for these children until their school and/or parents could purchase the aids.
(5) Developing an electronic database/low vision recording system accessible by all regional site doctors. (This database would contain data about each student, such as functional vision problems.)
(6) Developing a public low vision rehabilitation awareness and education program.
(7) Developing the KanLovKids Project website. (KanLovKids, the project's name, was born from the original name of the grant, Kansas Lions Statewide Low Vision Project for Children [Kids]).
(8) Developing other informational media, such as brochures, to distribute to school districts, special education cooperatives and Kansas Lions Clubs.

In early 2011, we submitted the program to a Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) for a SightFirst Research Grant. The Grant aims to strengthen eye care in underserved communities. (See www.lcif.org/EN/_files/pdfs/SFResearchRFP.pdf.)

Granted

In early August, we learned the LCIF grant was ours. The Kansas State School for the Blind is the Grant's base of operations, and the Kansas Lions Club has spread the word about the program, attended program presentations and observed several low vision exams.

To date, 10 regional low vision centers are operational. Also, a regional educational meeting was held in October, where several one-on-one doctor-training sessions occurred. And, a low vision specialist helped create the low vision database, used by all program doctors. Further, the KanLovKids website (http://kanlovkids.kssdb.org/home) is up, and informational media is available.

Although KanLovKids is still in its infancy and much of our efforts to date have been in setting up the regional clinics and ordering equipment, we've examined more than 150 children since we received the grant. OM

DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JEN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.


Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: May 2012, page(s): 80