Aug. 5 deadline to apply for grants for community eye health and vision care projects
Have you submitted your application yet?
It's not too late to apply for Healthy Eyes Healthy Children (HEHC) grants.Applications must be submitted by midnight (CST) Wednesday, Aug. 5. View an application, grant requirements and additional information by visiting aoafoundation.org/hehc. Grantees and their state affiliates will be notified in August and September. HEHC is supported by founding sponsor Essilor Vision Foundation.
The program focuses on increasing the outreach of vision services to communities, families, schools and the medical community with special attention to underserved children. Further, the grants give doctors of optometry an opportunity to collaborate with other community resources. Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation will award up to $5,000 per grant to doctors of optometry across the nation who propose projects that align with HEHC objectives:
- Strengthen the outreach of community health programs through AOA state affiliates and their ability to interface and collaborate with a variety of state and local partners within as well as outside the optometric community.
- Increase visibility of optometric care at the state and local levels.
- Promote projects/results in a way that drives quality health care and the delivery of care to underserved children.
- Provide comprehensive eye examinations and eyeglasses to underserved youth through sustainable community-based solutions across the U.S.
Projects such as "Looking Out for Kids" spread awareness and increase vision services in the Philadelphia area.
The goals of the Salus University project included:
- Providing comprehensive eye examinations to 2,150 public school children. They have provided about 850 comprehensive eye exams to date.
- Make and dispense glasses to all children requiring eye wear after examinations. They have distributed about 1,200 pairs.
Under the project, a school nurse identifies children for not only vision needs but also whether their families are uninsured or underinsured. Those children, with permission slips from their parents, are transported by bus to mobile sites arranged by Salus University and the Philadelphia school district. Students then undergo comprehensive eye exams, conducted by a Salus University vision care team led by Brandy Scombordi, O.D., at mobile sites in the Philadelphia area, and are prescribed two pairs of glasses each, one set for school and the other to keep at home. The HEHC grant helped cover transportation and equipment costs.
The encounters were uplifting. One teacher didn't have enough students with permission to fill a bus to one of the mobile clinics. Rather than miss the opportunity, the teacher paid for her students to get there by Uber. Jacqueline Patterson, vice president of institutional advancement and community relations at Salus University, shared the story of a student whose parent was worried the prescribed glasses for their child would cause him to be teased and bullied because the lenses were so thick. Essilor Vision Foundation's "Changing Life through Lenses" program, which provided lenses and frames for the project, worked with Salus University to provide a more cosmetically appealing pair.
The doctors also were able to address all manner of eye conditions, including a student with a detached retina.
"That's always scary, but it's rewarding to know we caught something, and we helped this child keep whatever vision they had at that point," Dr. Scombordi says.
Given the doors that were once closed and are now open to women and people of color in society, it might be expected that the faces of optometry would reflect the changing demographics of the nation. And with the nation’s reckoning over social injustice in 2020 stirring anew concerns over diversity and inclusiveness, the profession is asking whether optometry reflects the nation’s changing demographics—and why should that matter?
After two years apart, Optometry’s Meeting welcomes back friends and colleagues June 24-26 with a new location and revamped experience that puts attendees’ health and safety first.