How Healthy Eyes Healthy People® grants spread optometry’s message

How Healthy Eyes Healthy People® grants spread optometry’s message

In addition to providing care for their patients, many optometrists turn their eyes toward service. They want to spread the message of vital vision health and reach critical populations within their own communities.

"Public awareness of the need for early childhood vision exams is extraordinarily important."

Healthy Eyes Healthy People® (HEHP) is designed to help them do so. The HEHP program's goal is to help optometrists change community health programs to ensure vision services are provided and ODs are recognized as vital practitioners in the health care system.

HEHP grants are awarded to state optometric associations with the goal of addressing vision needs within specific communities. In spring of 2014, Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation, awarded 16 HEHP state grants through a grant from Luxottica.

One such grant supports an exhibit titled "My First Eye Exam," which is expected to launch at the Seattle Children's Museum in spring of 2015.

Jennifer Andrews, O.D., proposed the exhibit, which will be an interactive "eye exam lane" for kids to play in. The eye exam lane will feature a chair, phoropter, and acuity charts, small white lab coats and other items such as occluders, flippers, color vision tests and stereopsis tests.

The exhibit aims to introduce eye doctors to children and educate caregivers about the importance of regular eye examinations for children.

"I have a 6-year-old, and I saw an opportunity to—en masse—expose people to the need for childhood vision intervention and eye exams," Dr. Andrews says.

Although the exhibit is geared toward children, she believes it will be just as educational for caretakers. Many parents she encounters in her practice are unaware that children under 5 years of age need eye exams.

"Public awareness of the need for early childhood vision exams is extraordinarily important," says Dr. Andrews.

The Seattle Children's Museum has more than 200,000 visitors annually, and Dr. Andrews expects the exhibit to be up-and-running in time for Optometry's Meeting® 2015, which will be held in Seattle. If so, attendees should put the Seattle Children's Museum and "My First Eye Exam" on their list of things to see.

Get involved in HEHP
The application process for 2015 HEHP grants will begin early next year.

November 14, 2014

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