A hand-held, portable device is helping parents of local preschoolers accurately detect vision problems.
The Detroit Lakes Lions Club purchased the Spot Vision Screener last fall. They are sharing it with the Park Rapids Lions. In recent weeks, Lions have conducted vision screenings on Head Start children with the new, camera-like technology.
"It's non-invasive," explained Peter Granger, a Detroit Lakes Lion. "It looks at the back of the eye and determines the level of eyesight. It can be pointed at anyone from 6 months to 100 years old."
Vision disability is the single most prevalent, disabling condition among children, Granger said, yet it has been notoriously difficult to test vision in babies and toddlers. When a child cannot read because of poor eyesight, it can affect their learning, he continued.
Lights and sounds on the Spot Vision Screener are designed to engage children's attention during the screening. Within 10 to 15 seconds, the device gives a rough estimation of a person's prescription. It indicates potential myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (blurred vision), strabismus (eye misalignment) or anisocoria (unequal refractive power). Patients either pass or are referred to an eye care specialist for further testing or follow-up care.
Minimal training is required. Park Rapids Lion Julie Lafountain said she learned how to use it within two minutes.
The Spot Vision Screener is not cheap, however. It costs about $10,000 each. Lions District 5M9 is applying for a grant, hoping to purchase 10 or more of these devices.