Culpeper preschoolers, kindergartners and children with special needs will now have a chance to get their vision checked early, thanks to a device purchased by the Dawn Lion’s Club.
The Culpeper Dawn Lions Foundation, through a VFW donation and a matching grant from Virginia Lions Sight and Hearing, purchased a PediaVision SPOT – which allows the group to check the eyesight of children that can’t read.
"This is for preschoolers and kindergartners," Dawn Lions Club member Pat Aitken said. "They don't have to read anything."
Aitken and her husband Sam noticed a need for the device while working with the Lions Club while testing the vision of elementary students in Culpeper County.
The device is based on photo-retinoscopy, where infrared light is used to scan the focus of both eyes simultaneously.
Once childrens’ eyes dilate, Aitken explained, they look at a little "birdie" as a tester stands about one-meter away. The program registers within one or two seconds and gives a report with all the information needed.
"If they have an astigmatism, if they have bad sight, this is what the doctors would need to get them glasses," Aitken said. "There are doctors’ offices in Fauquier that have these, but to my knowledge this is the only one in Culpeper."
The organization has already tested 31 children at Culpeper Christian School and did so within an hour and 10 minutes.
Purchased in the spring, the Lions Club is just now implementing testing and are asking area preschools to sign up for the program. It’s completely free and all that is required is a dark room for testing purposes.
Aitken said the device can be used for children as young as six months and the youngest they’ve tested so far is 10 months.
The group also did a testing at the Santa breakfast in Remington of 35 children, with five referrals.
"This is part of the sight and hearing, we really want to get someone involved with it so people know that it's there," Aitken said.
Five Lions Club members are trained on the device, which cost $8,000.
If anyone in the community is interested in setting up an appointment for testing, contact the Aitkens at 547-2654.