Parents encouraged to get their children’s eyesight tested
Monday, March 7th, 2016
Students from a total of 10 schools in both Caye Caulker and San Pedro have benefited from the Lions Zone 59 Belize National Children Eye Screening Program. An essential test carried out on students between the ages of three and 14 years, the free eye screening helps to identify possible vision problems within our youth’s population. There are still many schools left to be screened by the program, and organizers are asking for the parent’s collaboration in signing consent forms, as a child will not be screened unless parents/guardians issue a consent approval.
According to Chairman of the San Pedro Lions Eye Screening Program, Jan Brown, carrying out the eye screening test on children is essential in order to identify possible problems. The test indicates whether the child needs further consultations with an ophthalmologist and possibly eye glasses. “We have been very excited about doing this program. It is a service we are offering throughout the island which is beneficial to our children,” said Brown.
In order for a child to be screened, parents must provide consent. Schools issue consent forms to all parents on behalf of the Belize National Children Eye Screening Program. Brown indicated that they have encountered issues at certain schools where many parents do not return the consent forms. “If a parent decides that they don’t want to have their child’s eye checked, well that’s their prerogative. But we do encourage everyone to give their consent because you never know when something is going to come up with the child’s health,” said Brown.
If a child is referred for further treatment, parents do not have to worry about the expense, as the San Pedro Lions Club offers discounts and even full coverage for those who cannot afford it. “We indicate in the forms that if a parent cannot afford the glasses, the Lions of Belize will pay for them. We have a central fund that takes care of this. The family only needs to tell us that they need assistance,” said Brown.
At the San Pedro Roman Catholic School (SPRCS) alone, over 765 children have been screened, with 111 of them needing eye glasses. “We have had over 80 referrals here at SPRCS that is quite high. Normally, at any school, we get a percentage between 8% and 10% of children who need refers. If the eye screening test shows that the child has an eye problem, they can either visit the Belize Center for the Visually Impaired (BCVI) monthly clinic here in the island or go to Belize City. The service is free and there they get a prescription for glasses to assist them with them problem. Like I have said, if you can’t afford the glasses the Lions will also help with that cost,” said Brown. SPRCS has an enrollment of 860 students: 756 were screened, 32 were not given permission by parents, 15 were absent, and 48 were unaccounted for.
Here in San Pedro, two primary schools and four preschools are still left to be screened. Parents/guardians with concerns or who need further explanation can contact Jan Brown at 672-2725. All residents are also reminded that the free BCVI clinic is held at the Lions Den every first Wednesday of the month.
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