WILLIAMS, Ariz — Arizona schools will now be required to give students free vision screenings, thanks to a new law Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed last week, and the Williams Lions Club hopes to aid in that with the purchase of a new vision screening tool.
Williams Lions Club President George Watt addressed the Williams Unified School District Governing Board Aug. 14 and brought a Spot Vision Screener with him.
Watt said the $8,000 unit is a state of the art vision screener device that is efficient and highly accurate in detecting vision problems in children.
“In just a day’s time we did about 286 Williams elementary students and 64 high school students,” Watt said after using the borrowed machine.
Watt came to the council meeting urging the governing board to consider helping the group purchase its own Spot Vision Screener.
“They are $8,000 apiece, but in 30 seconds I can get a half dozen results on this machine,” he said. “It’s especially beneficial for the young guys 6-months-old to 2 years old.”
Even without the machine, the Williams Lions Club has worked with local schools to provide vision screenings for years.
“The old exams where you put one eye up doesn’t tell you a lot,” he said.
Watt said he hopes that local businesses and organizations can help raise money for the screening tool.
“We are trying to use grants and our own funds, but we are hoping WUSD can help as well as other groups in town,” he said. “They are good for the whole community.”
Watt said current screenings can be faster and more accurate with the Spot Vision Screener, which many Lions Clubs use.
The hand-held device examines students for six major eye issues including farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, eye alignment, unequal pupil size and unequal focusing of the eyes.
The screener can be used from three feet away and detect vision issues on patients from 6 months of age through adults.
Ophthalmologists say that early detection is important in vision screening and 80 percent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured.
WUSD Governing Board President Herman Nixon said the board could not act on the discussion item at that time, but would put it on a future agenda.
Superintendent Rick Honsinger said he wasn’t sure if the district could help pay for something they wouldn’t own.
“I appreciate what the Lions Club has done for us,” Nixon said. “It’s a great organization.”
About the bill
Senate Bill 1456 directs schools to provide vision screenings as soon as a child begins classes at any Arizona public school. School nurses, volunteers or other employees who have training can conduct the screenings.
The legislation that was introduced by state Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, requires schools to give vision screenings to new students, students receiving special education services, students selected for screening and students not reading at grade level by third grade.
There has been no word on whether funding for schools will help facilitate the screenings.