People who are the change

Westmoreland schools benefit from free eye clinic

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer
Thursday, November 12, 2015


FROME, Westmoreland – Junior Campbell, an eight-year-old Grade 3 student at the Mount Airy Primary School in Westmoreland, has been finding it difficult to read for quite some time.

His grandmother, Louise Lewis, says whenever he attempts to read, his eyes become watery.

“He just keeps on winking them, winking them and rubbing them,” said the concerned grandmother, who contemplated taking the youngster to an optician.

But, thanks to the Rotary Club of Negril, in association with Cornerstone Jamaica and Mission of Sight project, called ‘See Better, Learn Better,” Junior will by the end of this month be able to access eyewear free of cost, following a recent screening exercise at his school.

During the exercise involving the use of specialised equipment branded Vision Screener, some 150 students of the Mount Airy Primary and Infant School were identified as needing treatment for their eyes. They were later transported by bus to the Mission of Sight Centre in Frome, where they were attended to by a team of eye specialists.

Team member Dr Doug McCloy, a registered optometrist who has been practising in the island for the past 20 years, said Junior has a condition called hyperopia.

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is said to be a common vision problem. People with hyperopia can see distant objects very well, but have difficulty focusing on objects that are up close, as they appear blurry.

“He (Junior) is one of those that might not be cared for necessarily in a normal environment, but he is a little more farsighted than what you would normally expect for a child of his age,” revealed Dr McCloy.

“When you really look into it, he (Junior) is having to work extra hard to see things clearly, especially up close. So, we prescribed for him a low- powered magnifying type lens for reading that will help him to get rid of his watery eyes and paining eyes, when he is reading.”

Among the other cases seen by the team were keratoconus, a degenerative condition characterised by conical protrusion of the cornea, and astigmatism, an optical defect in which vision is blurred due to the inability of the optics of the eye to create a sharp focused image on the retina.

Ken Cooney of the Rotary Club of Negril told the Jamaica Observer West that under the initiative, each child in need will receive a free pair of glasses.

“Each child got a full eye examination. They also got fitted for glasses, and we were able to give them a reasonable choice. Those glasses will be made for them brand new in America, and then brought back, and those children who need glasses will have their glasses in about three weeks’ time,” explained Cooney.

Lewis, in the meantime, is very appreciative of the initiative.

“Yes, I appreciate it. Because it saves some money in my pocket, and later down I can come back here with him for treatment,” said the appreciative grandmother.

President of the Rotary Club of Negril, Elaine Allen-Bradley, said students of the Sheffield All-Age School, also in Westmoreland, have also recently benefited under the initiative.

She added that plans are also afoot to undertake the project in other schools in the Negril area, emphasising that “the aim of the Rotary Club is to expand the programme in other schools within western Jamaica next year.”

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