When it comes to vision problems, Ohio residents are no different than others across the United States.
According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Save Our Sight Program, “Up to 15 percent of preschool children have an eye or vision condition that, if not corrected, can result in reduced vision. Twenty-five percent of school-aged children have a vision problem, and up to 5 percent of children have amblyopia (lazy eye).”
According to Prevent Blindness Ohio (PBO), nearly two million Ohioans are facing visual impairment and blindness in the 40+ population. Prevent Blindness Ohio’s motto is “You Only Get One Pair and No Spare.” This is very fitting because many vision problems and eye diseases are not reversible.
The Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) has programs that help residents to access vision concerns. Probably the most utilized program is made possible by the agency Prevent Blindness Ohio (PBO). This program is for both children and adults and is income-based. Financial guidelines are at 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level for family size compared to yearly income: 1 = $23,760; 2 = $32,040; 3 = $40,320; 4 = $48,600; 5 = $56,880; 6 = $65,160; 7 = $73,460; 8 = $81,780; For each additional person, add $8,320. (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Federal Register, 1/28/16).
This program helps residents with eye exams and glasses. Local eye doctors contract with PBO to provide these free exams and PBO-approved glasses. I would like to share a local success story written by Linda and George Kent after they received services through this program.
“My husband and I needed our eyes examined, but didn’t know how. I saw a piece in the paper about helping people in need. I call the Health Department and talked to Leanne Cunningham. She got us appointments with Dr. Melanie Weese in Racine on May 13, 2016. Dr. Weese found that my husband had cataracts in both eyes. She sent us to Dr. Danielle Ortman in Athens Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Athens, Inc. She operated on both eyes. She said they were bad. He would’ve been blind in three months or so. We are so grateful for all everyone has done for us. You need your eyes. Thank you so much for all you have done. We had no other way to get our eyes done. Leanne made the eye doctors appointments for us. We got right in. She is a caring and passionate person in helping others. We are seniors.”
The MCHD also has two other programs to assist with vision concerns. One program is for children and is funded through the Ohio Department of Health, which helps with transportation to/from vision appointments. Funding for this program is limited, so the service is first come, first serve. The final program we host is Children with Medical Handicaps, formerly BCMH. Also income-based, this program will help diagnose and treat certain eye problems. For more information on CMH, call Angie Rosler, RN at 740-992-6626. For the other programs discussed, call me at 740-992-6626.
Submitted by Leanne Cunningham, director of nursing.