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Tyrone Hospital receives Healthy Vision Grant from National Institute of Health

Marty Sekerak, Executive Director of the Blair County Association for the Blind (BCAB), talks to students at Tipton Baptist School as they prepare to participate in a vision screening. Tina Walters of Blair County Association for the Blind gives students at Tipton Baptist School a closer look at the chart used to complete their vision screening.

Tyrone Hospital received a grant from the National Institute of Health’s, National Eye Institute (NEI) to conduct vision screenings for pre-school age children in Tyrone Hospital’s service area.
The National Eye Institute made resources available to help communities achieve the goals outlined in Healthy People 2010. Healthy People 2010 is a collection of national health goals which includes vision health goals, among them a goal to increase the number of pre-school age children who receive a vision screening. Pennsylvania’s State Health Improvement Plan which is developed based on the Healthy People 2010 goals also addresses the need for vision screenings in young children.
According to the National Eye Institute, vision problems affect up to 20 percent of all pre-schoolers. However, studies have found that less than 22 percent of preschool children receive vision screening. Vision problems can affect a child’s development and can keep them from doing their best in school, sports, and social activities. The good news is, most vision problems can be corrected with early detection and treatment.
Theresa Yanchetz, Director of Marketing & Volunteer Services at Tyrone Hospital, said in spring 2008, a screening was held for students in the Pre-K Counts program at Tyrone Elementary School.
“It was a collaborative effort between our local school district, Heimer Eye Care Associates, and Tyrone Medical Associates,” she said. “We are currently collaborating with the Blair County Association for the Blind (BCAB) for vision screenings for other pre-schools around the area.”
A screening was recently completed at Tipton Baptist School. Screenings will also be provided at the First Presbyterian Church Pre-school and St. Matthew’s Pre-school in Tyrone and at All in A Day’s Pre-school and Mt. Laurel Day Care & Pre-school in Bellwood.
Yanchetz said the hospital is also collaborating with Heimer Eye Care Associates and The Daily Herald to issue a series of news releases on topics related to vision health as part of the grant project to increase community awareness of children’s vision health. To date information has been provided on myopia (nearsightedness), and strabismus (crossed- eyes) with other topics to be addressed in coming months.
A variety of organizations have supported the grant project either by providing data for the grant application, issuing letters of support, and/or collaborating to provide the vision screenings. Organizations supporting the project include: Tyrone Hospital, Tyrone Rotary Club, Tyrone Area Chamber of Commerce, Heimer Eye Care Associates, Tyrone Medical Associates, Tyrone Area School District, Lion’s Sight Conservation Foundation of Blair County, Child Advocates of Blair County, Blair County Association for the Blind, Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, and The Daily Herald.