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School-Based Health Center Improves Vision for Brooklyn Children

BROOKLYN, N.Y., Sept. 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In its initial year of operation, New York's first school-based vision center at PS 188 in Coney Island provided prescription eyeglasses to nearly half of the 314 children who received routine eye exams­–with no out-of-pocket cost to their families.

A slit lamp test allows optometrist Mary Botelho, OD, to evaluate the physical structure of the eye and enables her to spot a variety of conditions that may require treatment or additional tests.

"The vast majority of the students who needed glasses did not know they needed them," says Isaac Dapkins, MD, chief medical officer, Family Health Centers (FHC) at NYU Langone. "It shows this healthcare resource can dramatically improve the learning experience for these students. When children are not able to read the board or follow along in class, they are much more at risk of not being engaged in active learning. These years—between prekindergarten and 5th grade—are critical years in childhood development and missing out can have a lifelong impact."

In collaboration with OneSight, a global nonprofit dedicated to removing barriers to vision care, the FHC's School Health Program launched the vision center as part of the PS 188 school-based health center in June 2018. The vision care program complements the center's pediatric primary care services with comprehensive eye examinations, glasses, and medical eye care for students. To date, the OneSight Vision Center, which is the first of its kind in New York State, has prescribed eyeglasses to more than 140 students.

About 84 percent of PS 188's prekindergarten to grade 5 students are enrolled in the school-based health center, enabling them to receive healthcare services at no direct cost to the students or their families, according to Adrienne McMillan, MD, medical director of the School Health Program at the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone.

"The mission of the OneSight Vision Center is to improve access to high-quality vision services," says McMillan. "Students do not have to leave school to have an eye exam, and families do not have to go anywhere else to shop or be fitted for glasses. The vision center provides both the exam and eyeglasses conveniently and at no direct cost."

Optometrist Mary Botelho, OD, provides comprehensive vision care at the center, including the diagnosis and treatment of conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, amblyopia (lazy eye), and astigmatism (blurry or double vision). She also prescribes eyeglasses and other visual aids.

"Children who need glasses can pick their own frames from among several samples on-site.  The frame and lens are fabricated off-site and delivered to the center. The child is then scheduled for a follow-up appointment in one to two weeks for fitting. If adjustments are needed, we can do that at the center," says Botelho. Those who require further testing and other treatment can be referred to NYU Langone Health's vast network of specialists, including the NYU Langone Eye Center with locations in Brooklyn.

Vision services have recently expanded to nearby PS 329 and will expand to an additional group of identified schools in the Coney Island neighborhood in the coming year. The vision center at PS 188 was fully furnished and equipped by OneSight, and sponsored by LensCrafters, a retail brand of Luxotica. It was established in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers, as well as New York City's Department of Education and Department of Health.

Media Inquiries:

Colin DeVries
colin.devries@nyulangone.org
718-630-7414

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