GREENVILLE — Thanks to a generous donation from two local organizations, some Greenville students will have a chance to see things more clearly than ever before.
The Gettysburg and Greenville chapters of the Lions Club International pooled their collective resources to purchase and donate a Welch Allyn SureSight vision screener to Greenville City Schools. The cost of the unit exceeded $3,000.
Greenville School Nurse Beth Shellhaas calls the donation “a blessing.”
The Welch Allyn SureSight vision screener is a portable handheld unit which screens for vision problems in children or adults. It operates on a rechargeable lithium battery. The screener picks up on refractive errors, which may indicate problems with nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
The vision screener measures the sphere and the cylinder of the eye. Further, it measures differences between eyes, signifying that the person being tested may have weaker eye muscles in one eye. The device’s digital readout displays “plus” and “minus” symbols paired with numbers from 0 to 9 which helps the user determine if there is an issue in one or both eyes of the person being tested.
Because it is a quick process — taking approximately five seconds per eye — and does not require any verbalization of shapes or letters, Shellhaas says it is much easier, and faster, to test the eyesight of special needs students.
“We have not been able to screen many of our non-verbal or developmentally delayed students until we received this screener from the Lions Club,” said Shellhaas. “This is the first time in the eight years I’ve been here that I’ve been able to successfully screen these students.”
The unit’s user positions him- or herself face-to-face with the test subject, activating the unit about 14 inches from the person being tested. Different beep signals will notify the user if he or she is too close or too far from the testee, and will also signal the test taker when a successful reading has been completed.
The SureSight vision screener also features a wireless print function that will record a testee’s result on paper.
So far, Shellhaas has used the vision screener on all of Woodland Primary’s Kindergarten and first grade students. Special needs students have also been tested at the district’s East Intermediate School and South Middle School.
Eventually, the eyesight of all “odd” numbered classes in Greenville, from Kindergarten through seventh grade, will be tested. The vision screenings will be repeated the following year on students from the “even” numbered classes entering the odd grades, and so forth.
Medical Technology students from Greenville’s Career Tech Center have also provided assistance with testing.
If the device shows a potential problem with a student’s eyesight, Shellhaas says her practice is to repeat the test on the student within a few days. If the subsequent test still shows an issue, she will also have the student take an old-fashioned eye test using a wall chart, just to be safe.
Upon a second “failed” test, Shellhaas will notify that student’s parents and encourage them to have their child’s eyesight examined by a licensed eye-care professional.
“I’m excited for all the students,” said Shellhaas. “But the biggest excitement is being able to screen the special needs kids and knowing whether or not they can see.”