November 4, 2014

Mercy Medical Center helps Canton City Schools’ students receive free eye care

Mercy Medical Center, the Ohio Optometric Foundation and Canton City Schools recently partnered to offer free eye exams and eyeglasses to 75 pre-screened students in grades Pre-K to 11. The students were bused to Allen Elementary in Canton to receive exams from nine volunteer doctors and fittings for glasses of their choice.

Among the many volunteers stationed in the optometric foundation’s state-of-the-art “iSee Mobile Unit” outside the elementary school was optometrist Scott Sedlacek. He drove from Cleveland to provide exams to students in need. He also screens about 1,200 students in his children’s school district annually.

“I know how it benefits them. I know that it is needed. When Canton City Schools said they needed me on Wednesday, I said, ‘It’s my day off. I’m there,’” said Sedlacek, adding with a laugh, “And I don’t play golf.”

The eye doctor said that many kids don’t even realize they have vision problems. Many times students are labeled as having learning disabilities or behavioral issues when in reality, “they just can’t see.”

Sedlacek said he became passionate about early vision screening when he discovered a problem with his own child when she was only three. He said that if kids aren’t identified early, it might affect their reading and comprehension ability as they move through school. By the time the problem is identified for some, they are already having problems with their grades.

Tracey Needham, a Toledo area doctor with the Ohio Optometric Association, also volunteed. She said that over half of students who are identified as having vision problems at school screenings, do not follow up with an exam or get the glasses they need. She added that one in four students have some type of vision problem.

The Ohio Optometric Foundation began iSee (In School Eye Exam program) in 2008. Since then, volunteer optometrists have examined more than 800 students in 12 school districts across the state. Studies show that there is a significant gap between children who are identified as having a vision problem and those who receive follow-up care by an eye care provider. Nearly 50 percent of the students who do not pass the school vision screening do not follow up with the recommendation to see an optometrist. With 80 percent of learning coming through the visual system, these children are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to learning and succeeding in school.

Mercy Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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