Western News

Green Island Primary students get free eye exams

Observer West writer

Thursday, November 30, 2017

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GREEN ISLAND, Hanover — More than 600 students at the Green Island Primary School in Hanover recently received free eye examination through a partnership between the Mission of Sight from the US, Cornerstone Jamaica, and the Rotary Club of Negril.

Some 28 volunteers participated in the one-week clinic which provided diagnostic, treatment and surgery.

“Our goal is to try and come down here to provide as much care as we can to the people of Jamaica while doing it in a sustainable fashion. So our plan is not just to come in here and provide glasses, but we want to come in here, provide glasses and also provide people with a route to get care for their eye conditions. So, we are down here to diagnose and we are also down here to give management as well, as we have a team that is doing eye surgery,” explained Katie Connolly, the chief of paediatric services at Indiana University Optometry Department in the US.

Connolly said some of the common defects found with students at the school were amblyopia and strabismus.

She explained that students who have eye problems would normally also have behavioural issues in school.

“So, if your whole world is blurry, or seeing two of everything when you should only see one, it will be very challenging to learn in a school environment, because as you look at what it is you're supposed to look at, you have to put in more effort to see clearly. So oftentimes those persons have behavioural issues, because it is very frustrating for them to learn because they are fighting their eye condition all the time. So, if you can give them a pair of glasses or give them some long-term care, depending on their treatment, then they may be better off and learn more effectively in the classroom,” said Connolly.

Principal of the school, Vaccianna Moseley, in the meantime, welcomed the clinic, pointing out that it has assisted parents who were not able to afford eye care for their children.

“To be honest, sometimes you will be surprised to see how many of our students are unable to see with a 20/20 vision. If these kids have this problem from birth, they don't even know that they are lacking something, and until they are given the opportunity to see better, they don't even know that they could see better,” he argued.

“We discovered, too, that a lot of our students have problems seeing the [chalk] board. When they are too close it is a problem, and sometimes when they are far it is a problem.”

He added that because Green Island is a poor community, many times parents are unable to finance a pair of glasses.

Rotary Club Assistant Governor for Jamaica West, Ken Cooney, who is also a member of the Rotary Club of Negril, said students who were in need were provided with new custom-made glasses during the clinic.

Optician Aimy Sabella-Malone added that students who have received attention will be monitored for approximately six months with follow-ups over a few years, to see if their situation has changed.

Over the past two years almost 3,000 students across seven schools in Westmoreland and Hanover have been screened.

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