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Greenwich Lions conduct pediatric eye screenings

December 4, 2018

GREENWICH — One by one, Hamilton Avenue students stared at the red, blue and green blinking lights, and then the vision test was over. As they filed out, Alan Gunzburg gave them stickers and let them pet his service dog.

Gunzburg, an organizer of the eye screenings for the Greenwich Lions, and two other volunteers conducted pediatric screening in Hamilton Avenue School on Monday, as part of their tour of Greenwich elementary schools. This is the Lions Club’s third year of pediatric screening in Title I schools, and its second year in every public elementary school in Greenwich.

The device they use allows anyone to screen for vision, speeding up the process and freeing up nurses to handle crises.

“It would take nurses three to four weeks to do what we do in two days,” Gunzburg said. “This is better, faster and more comprehensive. We’re more than happy to be a part of the solution.”

The device, the Welch Allyn VS100 Spot Vision Screener, is an all-in-one camera that measures farsightedness, nearsightedness, blurred vision, eye alignment and unequal pupil size. The $7,500 apparatus screens for more eye problems than the traditional Snellen eye chart, which can only measure against perfect, 20/20 vision and can only test students who are old enough to read.

The Snellen method is more labor intensive because school nurses have to explain the process to each student and the test takes about 10 minutes, nurse Angie Lucas said.

Children also outsmart the chart by peeking just enough to read the letters if nurses are not looking, Lucas said.

After the tests, parents are informed if their child needs glasses or a different prescription. The school provides resources, from bilingual optometrists to referrals to programs offering free glasses.

The Lions Club also helps to get glasses for children without health insurance.

The state does not require pediatric screenings for preschool-aged children, but the high-tech device allows Lions volunteers to test Greenwich preschoolers, who are too young for the Snellen chart but can already exhibit signs of needing glasses.

“We can catch earlier than with the Snellen test,” Lucas said.

After sitting still for a minute, the bolder children on Monday would bend down and pet Kili, Gunzburg’s seeing-eye dog, who has been pet by most first-, fourth- and fifth-graders in Greenwich, Gunzburg said.

“It’s the highlight of my day,” Gunzburg said.

jo.kroeker@hearstmediact

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