Local eye care professionals helping boost vision screening for DCPS students

February 21, 2022

Antiquated equipment was causing issues with performing the required vision screenings at elementary schools in the Daviess County Public Schools district. With the technology used in today’s education, school officials said upgrades were a necessity. Thanks to help from local eye care professionals, steps are being taken to provide equitable access to vision screenings and ensure problems can be detected early.

Krissy Hutchason, a DCPS social worker, helped spearhead the replacement project. Family Resource Center coordinators in DCPS elementary schools are required to perform vision screenings every year for, at a minimum, 2nd and 5th graders. 

However, the current vision screening machines are 29 years old. Hutchason said machine parts were failing and vision charts were bent and torn. Significant space, lighting and time were needed to perform testing. The old machines required language comprehension, which often ruled out screening pre-schoolers, kindergarteners, 1st graders and some 2nd graders as well as ESL (English as a Second Language) students.

Hutchason contacted Vicki Quisenberry, Executive Director of the Foundation for DCPS, and requested two new machines costing $6,000 each. The new machines are about the size of a handheld camera and rapidly scan the eyes. The machine generates a photo and digital readouts for eye care professionals and can indicate vision issues. 

With the new machines, FRC coordinators could adequately evaluate every elementary school student yearly. 

Quisenberry presented the request to the Foundation Board of Directors, which immediately approved the purchase of one machine. 

Hutchason purchased the first machine with funding from the Foundation for DCPS. It arrived the day before Christmas break. Hutchason has begun training staff in proper use of the machine. 

“The sooner a vision problem can be detected and treated, the greater the probability there is for success in all areas of development for the student,” Hutchason said. “One in five children suffer from vision disorders. Access to advanced diagnostic equipment will allow for quick detection of vision issues and rapid referral to our local eye care professionals for treatment.”

Foundation Board member Casey Hamilton decided to work with local eye care professionals to see if they would help with purchasing the second machine. 

“The response was amazing,” she said. “My husband, RiverPark EyeCare’s Dr. Rob Hamilton, and his partner Dr. Elizabeth Martin committed to donating $1,500 for a second machine. Rob and Elizabeth sent letters to local eye care professionals asking them to match the RiverPark EyeCare donation. Owensboro Family Eye Care and Advantage EyeCare met the challenge. We now have $4,500 of the $6,000 we need to fund the second machine.”

Rob Hamilton has helped the district perform vision screenings in the past. He emphasized the importance of early detection of vision irregularities and impact on education. 

“We were excited to work with the Foundation for DCPS in helping to provide a vision machine for students,” he said. “Better vision is essential to learning, especially in today’s digital world.”

DCPS Superintendent Matt Robbins said he was grateful for the support of community partners.

“The generous support of RiverPark EyeCare, Owensboro Family Eye Care and Advantage Eye Care will make it possible for our schools to respond to concerns about students whose vision issues distract from their ability to engage at the highest levels in the classroom,” Robbins said. “Thanks to generous eye care professionals in our community, our children can truly look forward to a brighter future without limitations.”


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