Nemours Florida Prevention Initiative, in partnership with Nemours Children’s Hospital, Division of Ophthalmology and Nemours BrightStart!—a reading readiness program—has developed “Our Healthy Eyes,” a program incorporating eye health screenings and education designed for preschool children.
The program, which includes a one-day lesson plan, family newsletter and vision screening for child care centers, was piloted in six Winter Park child care programs at the beginning of the school year, and it is being expanded into another 18 child care programs in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville before the school year ends.
Using the book “Arlo Needs Glasses” by Barney Saltzberg, the lesson plan incorporates key parts of the average preschooler’s day – circle and center time, language, math, science and art – to reinforce the importance of healthy eyes. During the pilot program, the kids got to try on Arlo’s glasses, match words that rhyme with “eye” and more.
At the end of the day, a special “HealthyLinks” newsletter goes home with students so parents can learn about and reinforce the key messages about taking care of our eyes, recognizing vision problems early on and reading storybooks that talk about our eyes, vision and glasses.
One week after the program, a non-invasive vision screening is performed onsite at the child care centers by Nemours Opthalmology staff for children with parental consent. Results are sent home to parents or caregivers on the same day, with follow-up provided to those families who had children identified to be at risk for an eye condition.
In the pilot program, 198 children at the six child care centers were educated, 143 had eye screenings, and of these, there were 10 positive screens.