School nurses, Lions Club officials partnered to offer vision screenings to students

With young students relying heavily on computers and iPads as part of their school instruction, local volunteers say it is more important than ever to make sure they are not visually impaired in any way.

To help with this effort, Stanly County Schools nursing staff, in partnership with the local Lions clubs, recently finished conducting vision screenings for all first, third, fifth and seventh grade students across the district.

More than 2,500 students have been screened, with the data being sent to Prevent Blindness NC, a nonprofit health agency, which “delivers direct service programs designed to preserve sight through screening, publications, safety, education, information and referral through volunteer efforts,” according to its website.

Whenever the screenings detect problems with a student’s vision, parents are notified and the data is again reported to Prevent Blindness. A total of 427 of the 2,532 students screened have been referred as having potential vision problems, Lions Club Zone 2 chairperson Frances Almond said. There is no available information for how many students have received care.

According to Prevent Blindness, 4,000 North Carolina school children, ages 5-19, suffer eye injuries each year — and when vision problems are not found and treated early, they can interfere with a child’s ability to develop properly.

“Parents may not always understand why we focus so much on vision, but we know there is a reciprocal effect,” said SCS lead school nurse Faith McSwain. “If a student is not able to see, they are not able to learn as well. Early identification and early intervention is definitely going to give us positive outcomes and better success in the classrooms.”

Bryan Hoover, a mobile screening unit coordinator with North Carolina Lions Club, has also been helping to screen students in the county.

In the past, vision screenings were conducted in certain parts of the county by school nurses and in other parts by Lions Club members. But recently, the two have teamed up to conduct the screenings, which has led to better outcomes.

“The coordination with the nurses came about in the last year and a half and that has made a world of difference,” said Almond. “Now we have all four clubs (Norwood, Albemarle, Oakboro and West Stanly) doing vision screenings, working with the school nurses.”

The nurses at each school conduct the screenings in coordination with Lions Club members, McSwain said.