Allegany County United Way
Wellsville, New York
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Playing Pirates for Prevention

A key component of the Blind Association’s program is annual Amblyopia screening at schools with pre-k programs in Allegany County. Commonly known as Lazy Eye, Amblyopia is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. Left untreated, vision loss may range from mild to severe. The non-invasive screening is done by Blind Association Director Kathryn Kirsch RN, and Treasurer Judy Brush RN (retired). The four and five-year olds play a fun matching game while pretending to be pirates (with one eye covered). Each child learns that the eyes have muscles just like their arms and legs. If a child needs further testing for possible eye problems, the pre-k coordinator, teacher or school nurse will inform the parents or guardians.  (continued below) 

This past year, “Jimmy K.” had been struggling in class and his vision evaluation merited referral for further visual testing. The next year when the Association for the Blind staff went back to the school, Jimmy’s teacher told them that he had started the new school year school proudly wearing glasses. When he opened the play cash register for the first time, he said to the teacher, “I didn’t know there was money in here!” The teacher went on to relate what a wonderful difference the eye glasses has made in Jimmy’s life.

Amblyopia, when caught and corrected at an early age can often save a child from having more invasive procedures to correct the problem later in life.

Funding from Allegany County United Way makes it possible for the Allegany County Association for the Blind and Visually Handicapped to continue their Amblyopia Screening Program at county schools. For more information about this and other programs of the Allegany County Association for the Blind, call (585) 593-2023.

Photo Caption: Kathryn Kirsch and Judy Brush of the Blind Association screen pre-k students for Amblyopia at Belfast Central School.