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Granting Opportunities: Vision-screening for Preschoolers

Along with investing in core programs through partner agencies, United Way of Story County (UWSC) offers the opportunity for human service agencies in Story County to apply for grant funding. Since the beginning of 2014, this column has been highlighting some recent grant recipients as a way to share the good work of local agencies and, at the same time, fill you in on other opportunities UWSC provides beyond the traditional campaign and funding model.

In addition to the regular grant process, proceeds from UWSC’s Golf Fore Kids event, held each year in August, support programs and initiatives that impact the lives of Story County children above and beyond current funding opportunities. The awarded grants may address expansion of programs and initiatives already funded by UWSC or those not currently receiving funds from UWSC.

In order to help identify vision problems in preschool-aged children, Ames Breakfast Lions Club received a 2013 Golf Fore Kids grant of $1,500 to update vision-screening technology. Specifically, the funds were used to help purchase one iScreen 3000 Vision Screener device to ensure young children continue to receive the free screening service as technology is changing.

In the past decade, more than 5000 children have been screened in Story County, with a referral rate of about five percent. The specific goals of the project were to upgrade technology to help sustain vision-screening for Story County preschoolers at no cost to the families and to educate the public about the risk of undetected vision loss.

The KidSight project, a joint effort of the Lions Clubs of Iowa and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, meets both education and health needs in Story County. In addition to protecting the vision health of children, KidSight educates day care providers, parents of children in day care facilities and the general public about the need for early childhood vision-screening.

The iScreen Vision device uses the latest in digital photoscreening technology to screen for abnormalities. It captures two digital eye images in a fraction of a second and immediately displays the images on a computer screen for user review. Studies show photoscreening to be highly accurate in screening for myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and other serious vision problems that can result in vision loss if untreated.

The Ames Breakfast Lions Club has begun conducting screening on the new device. Children ages 6-48 months are the target population, and any young child living in Story County is eligible for the service. To receive more information or a screen for a child, contact David Williams at 515-233-3661.

(Sara Wilson is marketing director for United Way of Story County, a strategic leader in building county-wide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support and evaluate effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income and health, for our diverse community.)

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