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Miss. eye care centers offering free eye exams to eligible students

Local eyecare experts are offering free services to ensure students succeed in the classroom and on the ballfield.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 9:21 PM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - The school year may be winding down, but with summer break comes reading assignments.

Seven years ago, the State of Mississippi began implementing a reading test for all third-grade students, and a large percentage of children who took the initial test in 2015 failed, according to the Mississippi Optometric Association.

The association says one reason for the low passage rate may be eyesight issues.

“We understand that one of the crucial aspects of reading is good visual skills,” said Dr. Megan Sumrall Lott, functional optometrist, Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care. “Sometimes that goes beyond 20/20 eyesight.”

That’s why several optometrists across the state are stepping up to help.

“If your child did fail the third-grade reading test, they are eligible for a no-cost vision exam as well as eyeglasses if they see that they need eyeglasses,” said Lott.

There are several things to look out for that may indicate your child is experiencing a vision problem.

“These might be where they skip a word or omit words when reading... they may have double vision or eye strain,” said Lott. “You may see them covering an eye or tilting their head... headaches, just avoiding their work.”

Thankfully, there’s a tool to help.

“One of the best things you can do is there’s a 19-question vision and learning checklist, and if you complete that checklist, any score over the score of 20 or more, (it) indicates that there is a potential visual problem that might be holding your child back from reaching their full potential in the classroom,” said Lott.

It’s also important to note that a child’s need for good eyesight goes beyond the classroom.

When 11-year-old Grant Hogue, a patient at Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care, was asked how having good eyesight helps him play soccer better, he said it helped him, “to keep your eye on the ball and peripheral vision.”

No-cost eye exams will be offered through the end of the summer.

For a list of eye care centers participating in free exams, click HERE.

For a link to the 19-question vision and learning checklist, click HERE.

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