Wyatt’s Story

Four-year-old Wyatt lives a good life: exploring, laughing, learning. His parents, Jennifer and Matt, count themselves lucky. Wyatt is the picture of health. But last month, Wyatt came home from school with a letter notifying them that their son failed a vision screening performed in his Pre-K class by Prevent Blindness Georgia’s Star Pupils program.
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“How could this be?” Jennifer asked. “Wyatt had never given us ANY indication that he has trouble seeing. There were no signs. No symptoms.”

Upon bringing Wyatt to the eye doctor for a full, comprehensive eye exam, his parents learned Wyatt suffers from severe nearsightedness in one eye.

“All this time, Wyatt was seeing the world incorrectly. Things were blurry and confusing. I had absolutely no idea there was a problem,” Jennifer continues.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.02.38 PM copyUpon receiving his new glasses, Wyatt instantly began commenting on the new, bright, clear world around him. “Wyatt keeps talking about how colorful things are. How big the trees are. How clear the TV is when he watches his favorite movie,” Matt shares. “He can SEE. If it weren’t for Prevent Blindness Georgia, we never would have known Wyatt has a vision problem. They caught it early enough, before his sight impairment got in the way of his learning and development. We are so grateful.”

As part of the Star Pupils program, Prevent Blindness Georgia visits Pre-K classrooms across the state and offers free vision screenings to three through five-year-olds. In 2014, PBGA screened more than 31,000 children. A vision screening costs PBGA merely $9 and is critical in detecting the vision impairments that affect 1 out of 4 school children. Your support ensures our program is a success:

  • $9 – Vision screens one child
  • $45 – Vision screens five children
  • $200 – Vision screens an entire Pre-K classroom
Our goal is to offer a vision screening to every Pre-K child in the state of Georgia. This holiday season, help us find more children like Wyatt.


Roman’s Story

nookandsea-firmoo-glasses-review-online-retailer-tortoise-shell-unisex-full-frame-acetate-glasses-wood-tableThe following letter was written by Prevent Blindness Georgia President and CEO William Burke:

DeAndria, a member of the Prevent Blindness Georgia staff, recently shared with me the story of a young man named Roman. Roman is the rock of his family and his story is so inspiring, I simply have to share it with you.

Most twenty-somethings have a lot on their minds: friends, career, fun. But Roman has a little more on his plate than your typical twenty-three year old man. When Roman’s mother fell ill, his family turned to him – and his income – to support them. Roman has a full-time job, working long hours at a fast food restaurant. But after paying for his family’s bills and day-to-day living expenses, his income is completely spent.

When Roman walked into our clinic this October, he revealed that he had been wearing the same pair of glasses since he was 14 years old. While Roman is grateful for his job, it does not come with insurance. And he knew that an eye exam and a new pair of glasses were simply out of his reach. With 9 years of wear and tear, you can only imagine the condition they were in. The right lens falls out constantly and one handle had completely broken off. Making do with the resources he had, Roman reconstructed the handle with a piece of wire.

Roman received an eye exam from us and three weeks later, received a new pair of glasses. Thanks to the support of the Prevent Blindness Georgia community, Roman paid nothing. “As soon as I put these new glasses on, I felt a new sense of confidence,” Roman said. “I know when I talk to people now, they won’t be staring at my scratched lenses and wire handle. They’ll be looking at me.”

Since 1965, Prevent Blindness Georgia has been dedicated to helping people like Roman see the world around them… and simply live their lives.

Rates of Diabetic Eye Disease Expected to Increase by 3 million by 2032

Public health agencies across the country are feeling the impact from a skyrocketing number of diabetes cases on public health programs and funding. Eye disease is one potential consequence of diabetes on public health, as it can lead to vision loss and blindness. According to a recent study from Prevent Blindness, the estimated number of diabetic retinopathy cases in 2014 is currently more than 8 million. The number is projected to increase to nearly 11 million by 2032.

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Prevent Blindness Georgia has declared November as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month to help educate the public on diabetes prevention strategies, potential risk factors, treatment options and Medicare coverage policies. To assist in this effort, the organization is calling on state and local public health agencies to increase their attention to the eye care needs of those living with diabetes, as well as those who may be at high risk for the condition.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Diabetes patients are 40 percent more likely to develop glaucoma and 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts than those without diabetes. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can help prevent vision impairment and blindness.

“Public education is an important key to reducing the onset of vision problems related to diabetes,” said DeAndria Nichols, VP of Adult Vision Programs at Prevent Blindness Georgia. “Public health workers at the state and local level are committed to the health and well-being of those living in their state, and can have the largest impact on increasing public awareness.”

Prevent Blindness has distributed a number of diabetic eye disease resources to key public health leaders, encouraging them to join the sight-saving fight to address this growing epidemic. Such resources include an online course aimed at preparing health educators to address the vision care needs of their clients, information on the growing impact of diabetic eye disease, financial assistance resources for those in need, eye health fact sheets, and many more.

Programs include:

The Diabetic Eye Disease Educator Course – Offered in both English and Spanish, this program was developed to equip health educators with important patient and client education messages about diabetic eye disease and strategies for maintaining healthy vision that can be delivered through health outreach programs of community health centers, health departments, medical practices, and civic and faith-based organizations to individuals with diabetes as well as populations at highest risk for developing diabetes, including African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos. The online course can be found at http://diabetes.preventblindness.org/.

Healthy Eyes Educational Series, Adult Vision Problems Module – Community health educators and outreach workers, public health personnel, community and senior center program directors, employers seeking “lunch-and-learn” topics, and safety directors can utilize the Healthy Eyes Educational Series to conduct formal presentations or informal one-on-one sessions that can be customized utilizing modules most appropriate to the audience or clients. The Adult Vision Problems module covers signs and symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options for diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma. It can easily be downloaded for any presentation purposes at preventblindness.org/healthy-eyes-educational-series.

Living Well With Low Vision – Designed for people living with low vision and their caretakers to educate themselves about loss of vision and to meet the daily challenges resulting from it. By empowering individuals, we hope to provide practical ways for people to improve the quality of their daily lives and relieve the emotional trauma that often accompanies low vision. The program can be found at http://lowvision.preventblindness.org/.

Additional resources include state prevalence rates and cost information related to diabetic eye disease as well as a listing of financial assistance resources.

For more information on diabetic eye disease, please call Prevent Blindness at (404) 266-2020 or visit preventblindness.org/diabetes.

Avoiding Toy-Related Eye Injuries this Holiday Season

ss_101566405With the holiday season fast approaching, many of you will be purchasing toys for the children in your lives. Please keep the following tips in-mind to prevent your child from being falling victim to one of the nearly 265,000 toy-related injuries that happen each year.

  • Read all warnings and instructions on toys
  • Avoid toys with sharp or rigid points, shafts, spikes, rods, and dangerous edges
  • Keep toys intended for older children away from younger children
  • Avoid flying toys and projectile-firing toys; those pose a danger to all children, particularly those under five years old
  • Be aware of items in playgrounds and play areas that pose potential eye hazards

Flint Energies Foundation Donates $5000 through “Operation Round Up” Program

In 2001, Flint Energies adopted a uniquely simple and rewarding way to enable members to raise money for local charities and service organizations – Operation Round Up. Participating members allow Flint Energies to “round-up” their bill to the nearest dollar. For example, if a bill is $92.71, a member will pay $93, with all 29 cents going directly to the Flint Energies Foundation. On average, a member will contribute $6 a year, but never more than $11.88. If a member decides not to participate or chooses to discontinue contributions at any time, they may simply contact Flint Energies. Nearly 65% of Flint’s members have chosen to participate. Donations to Operation Round Up are tax deductible and members receive a summary of contributions in future January and February bills.

Each year, the Flint Energies Foundation Board of Directors disburses all contributions to approved, worthy projects – one of which is Prevent Blindness Georgia. On November 13th, Flint Energies presented Prevent Blindness Georgia with a check for $5000, which will be dedicated to providing vision screenings for Pre-K children living in Flint Energies’ distribution area.

Prevent Blindness Georgia
We are grateful that Flint Energies has chosen Prevent Blindness Georgia as a benefactor of this simple, and effective, fundraiser.

Halloween Safety Tips

1010p85-glasses-pumpkin-mHalloween should be a fun time that your child remembers for years to come. Every year, emergency rooms in the US treat several hundred eye injuries related to costumes and masks. Please use these tips to ensure your child enjoys a safe and happy Halloween.

  1. Avoid costumes that block vision
  2. Tie hats and scarves so they don’t slip over children’s eyes
  3. To prevent tripping, avoid costumes that drag on the ground
  4. Avoid pointed props (swords, etc.) that could harm other children
  5. Add reflective tape to your treat bag and/or costume
  6. Carry a flashlight
  7. Do not ride bikes or scooters while in-costume
  8. Obey all traffic signals
  9. Never dart out between parked cars or hidden corners
  10. Don’t trick-or-treat in busy commercial areas



Myers’ Story

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 10.12.29 AMIn honor of Georgia Pre-K Week, we’re pleased to share with you the story of a girl named Myers and how a vision screening provided by Prevent Blindness Georgia helped save vision in one of her eyes.

Last spring, Rollin McLennan pulled a letter from her four-year-old’s book bag which has changed her daughter’s life. “I received a letter telling me that Myers had failed her vision screening at school. I almost didn’t read it, as I expected her vision to be normal,” Rollin said. A few months before, Myers had passed her vision screening at the pediatrician’s office without a problem. But the certified vision screener from Prevent Blindness Georgia, Laurie Irby, found that one of Myers’ eyes was 20/30 while the other was 20/50.

Rollin rationalized the discrepancy. “I knew that the rest of our family didn’t have glasses and I thought that it was either a mistake or Myers was just being obstinate that day. She’s my caboose and has a mind of her own,” Rollin said. After Laurie called to follow up, Rollin took Myers back to her pediatrician’s office. The nurse said that they don’t expect children to have 20/20 vision.

Rollin began to notice that Myers was struggling with differentiating letters. She pulled a vision chart up on her computer, placed Myers on her lap, and covered one eye. “When I covered her left eye, she did well, but when I covered her right eye, she started pulling my hand away and told me she couldn’t see the letters. My pediatrician then referred me to a pediatric ophthalmologist.”

“My daughter was such a trooper,” Rollin said. At four-years-old, she had her eyes dilated, was sitting in a great big chair, and dealing with all that equipment. She was awesome,” Rollin recalled. “Sometimes we don’t realize how resilient our children are.”

The pediatric ophthalmologist reported that Myers was far-sighted and that her right eye was doing everything for the left eye. He noted that if the problem went untreated, she could lose all vision in her weaker eye and that the vision loss could not be reversed.

“Myers is now pushing 20/20 with her glasses on,” Rollin said. “She’s been a rock star about wearing glasses and has no apprehension… we didn’t want to make a big deal about it. We explained that it was like exercise for her eyes and would make them stronger. She has them on unless she’s swimming or sleeping – that’s why she’s responded so well,” Rollin said.

Thinking back about the ordeal, Rollin said, “There’s a huge denial problem as a parent when someone calls you and tells you that your child is not perfect. Getting Myers the help she needs prior to starting kindergarten and reading lessons and possibly before suffering permanent damage is awesome. I’m so thankful for Prevent Blindness Georgia and that Myers has responded so well to treatment.”


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