KidSight Outreach - Over Two Decades of Service
25 years ago, Dr. Denis O’Day, the chairman of Vanderbilt University's Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, challenged the Lions of Tennessee to create a program focused on providing vision screenings to young children. Without a state mandated vision exam before beginning kindergarten, many children in Tennessee began their educational journeys at a disadvantage due to unrecognized vision problems. Tennessee Lions Charities was formed to address the challenge issued by Dr. O’Day. Our answer to that challenge is KidSight Outreach.
Over the years, we have worked with experts in the fields of ophthalmology and vision technology to create a standard for vision screenings unique to our KidSight Outreach program. Our partnership with Vanderbilt University’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has strengthened over the years, and our KidSight Outreach program has aided in their study of Amblyopia.
We work with our local volunteers to coordinate, schedule, and conduct screenings at daycare centers, kindergarten programs, preschools, and other areas where children are regularly supervised. Our KidSight Outreach staff stays current with the latest developments in vision screening technology, and we constantly train our volunteers to ensure that KidSight Outreach maintains the high standards we have set. The data from our KidSight Outreach screenings are received from these volunteers for professional evaluation, cataloging, and oversight. The KidSight Outreach staff then notifies parents and screening sites of the results, and children with potential vision problems are referred for a full exam. Once a referred child has been examined the results of these exams are forwarded to our partners at Vanderbilt University's Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences for further analysis. Our partnership with Vanderbilt is essential to our program’s credibility, and their research and additional evaluation of our program sets KidSight Outreach apart from other vision screening programs.
The follow-up procedures that we have established for KidSight Outreach help our program take a step beyond other vision screening programs across the nation. We know that vision problems affect approximately five percent of preschool age children. Currently, an estimated sixty percent of children under age six do not have eye exams. While it is our goal to eliminate that sixty percent figure, our KidSight Outreach program does not simply stop at the vision screening level. We strive to ensure that those children referred for potential vision problems by our screenings are actually seen by a doctor. Our follow-up coordinator reaches out to the parents of those children referred by our program and works to ensure the child receives treatment.
Since answering the challenge to ensure that Tennessee’s children do not begin their school careers with unfound vision problems, we have provided free vision screenings to over 640,000 children. Of those screened, over 35,000 have been referred for full exams and treatment. The mother of one of those referred children writes, “We had no idea at all that he needed glasses. When we went to the appointment, I was just heartbroken when he couldn't read the letters on the wall. After he started wearing glasses his handwriting improved along with his other fine motor skills. You have helped change his life, and I am forever grateful.”
The support of our local Lions clubs is essential to Tennessee Lions Charities and our KidSight Outreach program. If your club has made the decision to support the KidSight Outreach vision screening program, we thank you. With continued support from the Lions of Tennessee, we can ensure that our children will receive the benefits of our KidSight Outreach vision screening program for the next decade, and we can also ensure that another generation will learn from an early age the impact that Lions make in their communities.