Snohomish Lions take on annual vision screenings at Machias
Cash Dwyer, 6, is seated for a vision screening last week. Lions volunteers offered resources in time, attention and use of an additional four vision screening devices to support
Snohomish Schools’ in an annual mandate.
SNOHOMISH — The lights flicked off, triggering an urge to quiet down as four lines of blue painter’s tape were arranged in parallel stripes on the floor.
A row of Lions Club volunteers shrunk into child-sized seats, and about 20 minutes later, 34 feet pressed into the tape in row four, then another line filtered in the door, forming a single-file line on row three. Within minutes, all four lines were filled with a quiet, minimally fidgeting crowd.
“Open your eyes wide,” said Mike Edwards, Snohomish Lions president, pointing a handheld Viewmaster-esque device at a seated child, moving the device slightly until a reading was achieved. The end result indicates to “refer” the student to a comprehensive exam or “pass” on a referral, showing no follow-up is needed.
The process flowed quickly with the first group in-and-out in several minutes before the next group arrived.
“It takes an hour to do a whole school,” Edwards said.
The handheld vision screeners used to check darting elementary eyes are designed to reveal 80 challenges to proper visual health, said Michael Blalock, vice president of the Snohomish Lions Club. One of them can cost $5,000 —the Lions Club arrives with four. Problems can include astigmatism, glaucoma and varying vision deficiencies, but the resulting news that materializes on the vision-screener device as simply “refer” or “pass.”
Second graders were excited to get the screening, although a few were a little nervous.
Kaylee Glover, 7, said she was “really happy” to get the screening. Lochlan Clasen, 8, said, “I thought it was good. I don’t have glasses at home, so I have good eyes.”
Fifth graders knew why they were there, but some were a little nervous.
Angela Jones, 11, said “I know that I’m not going to have 20-20 vision, but it looks like people are staring into your eyes.”
Bret Reinhardt, 10, chimed in, “staring into your eyes, unlocking all your secrets.”
“It looks weird,” added Mylee Snyder, 10.
By the end of the event, nearly every student at Machias Elementary was screened.The Snohomish Lions Club expects to screen 4,000 kids this school year.
Edwards said 8 percent of those screened will be referred for further testing. The referral goes to the parents, but “we have relationships” with optometrists in the Snohomish area, Edwards said. For those with insurance, appointments are handled by the parents at that stage.
Prescription glasses for those without insurance can range according to the complication level of the prescription. Some cost as little as $20, while a multifocal can cost $500.
For those with some insurance but no hardware coverage, a Google search for “online glasses” will pull up options for low-cost options for companies such as eyebuydirect.com and zennioptical.com.
Children who are uninsured can get additional support from the Lions. Edwards said they partner with Coe Family Vision Clinic and Eyecare Center of Snohomish,
reimbursing doctors $200 for each referred exam. Exam costs are shared with Snohomish County Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, Edwards said, and doctors will cover the cost of glasses and frames.
Schools across the state are required by law to complete auditory and vision screenings annually, to determine any deficiencies that impact learning.
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