Your eyesight plays an essential role in your health, social engagement, and overall quality of life. As a complex organ, all of the parts must work perfectly together to produce a clear vision. Human beings rely on their eyesight to see and make sense of everything around them. Even though the eyes are crucial to our survival, many people take them for granted and ignore the necessary care until a real threat appears on the scene.
This incredible organ is also susceptible to deteriorations like eye diseases and infections, leading to vision loss. Eye complications are often undetected, damaging the delicate visual systems before symptoms are noticed. While some people don’t have eye problems until adulthood, many children are born with poor levels of vision, which can affect them significantly.
Nearly 25% of school-age children have vision problems, and many preschool and school-age children do not receive adequate vision care. According to the American Optometric Association, 12% of teenagers have undetected or untreated vision problems. The earlier a vision problem is diagnosed and treated, the less negative impact it will have on the child’s development and schooling. The early detection and treatment of eye and vision issues for children should be a major public health goal.
Seeing this emerging problem, some hardworking individuals dedicate their lives to create a change by providing professional eye care services for every low-income child, whether they can afford it or not. During an interview with Top Doctor Magazine, Stephanie Kirby, the executive director of Eye Care 4 Kids, explained how the non-profit organization provides professional eye care to low-income children and underserved families in Nevada. Kirby told us, “Eye Care 4 Kids is dedicated to providing eye care services for kids that need correcting vision without resources, whether that be the funds, access to it, or other related reasons limiting them from receiving eye care services.”
After a prosperous professional career spanning over four decades, Joseph G. Carbone, a board-certified optician, founded Eye Care 4 Kids in 2001, providing humanitarian services to underserved kids. Mr. Carbone made this clear in one of his interviews, saying, “I believe that everyone has the responsibility to take what they have learned in their careers, or from their hobbies, and bless the lives in their communities. Poor vision is a stumbling block. If you cannot see, you cannot read. And if you cannot read, you will not learn,” says Mr. Carbone
Eye Care 4 Kids focuses on creating relief for the people in the grassroots.
Since its inception, Eye Care 4 Kids has helped nearly 300,000 individuals through its national and international efforts. Through generous donations, Eye Care 4 Kids started a mobile vision clinic equipped with a patient waiting area, pre-screening area, exam room, and wall of eyeglass frames. The clinic travels to CCSD schools, community centers, and various events throughout the valley. Annually, nearly 10,000 students are screened at Eye Care 4 Kids through CCSD urban and rural schools and, of those students, nearly 85% need eyeglasses.
Speaking about this laudable selfless service, Kirby expressed delight knowing that the non-profit organization is positively influencing the trajectory of children’s lives. “I know that when people walk in through the door, they have a sense of relief that they don’t have to worry about the cost of their child’s health and all the services they so desperately needed.”
Working through the pandemic, Eye Care 4 Kids, and community partners, created a student support clinic at senior centers closed due to COVID-19. The group targeted specific schools, made appointments, and provided access to kids. While narrating her experience, Kirby told us, “As the schoo’ districts was shutting down, we also had to shut down because we operate on school grounds. We followed their instruction and shut down for 72 days. At that time, I was still coming to the clinic every two to three days and also worked from home.”
Kirby and her team attended to patients until the second week of March to deliver orders from patients who needed their glasses. To make this easier on the patients, she delivered the glasses personally, including the high prescription glasses, because, without them, the kids could not read or see their computer screen. “It was a challenge that turned into great opportunities because we had time to speak to kids about their diagnosis. We also tell them about the 20-20-20 rules: if you are on a device for 20 minutes, give your eyes a 20 seconds break and get up to take something 20 feet away from you,” Kirby explained.
Traditionally, when people go to clinics, patients barely remember the physician’s recommendations once they’re out the door. To overcome this challenge, Kirby and her team present a bag to the patients containing information about their diagnosis, when and why they need to wear their glasses, and why they are responsible for them, “…because this is probably going to be a diagnosis they will have throughout their life.” Kirby said.
While this fantastic service provides relief to so many kids, Kirby hopes for more donations and support from people to keep Eye Care 4 Kids running. With the need for vision care ever-growing, Eye Care 4 Kids have plans to expand the services in all current locations and create clinics in new additional states across the country. Eye Care 4 Kids certainly look forward to establishing new partnerships and friendships to turn these amazing goals into reality.
Giving a child the gift of sight is simple yet so unattainable for far too many. We ask for your help in making the adequate vision a reality for our future generations.