Local optometrists offer free exams for third graders

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 4, 2015

EYE EXAM: Dr. David P. Schwarz examines third grader Madison Hartman’s vision at his clinic. Submitted photo.

EYE EXAM: Third grader Madison Hartman receives a comprehensive eye examination from Dr. David P. Schwarz at his clinic. Submitted photo.

The Mississippi Optometric Association and the Mississippi Vision Foundation partnered with local optometrists to provide free eye exams for third graders who didn’t pass the statewide reading test.

One of those optometrists is Dr. David P. Schwarz from Eye Care for Picayune. Schwarz is offering free eye exams–from now through July– for students who didn’t pass the third grade reading summative assessment and don’t have insurance coverage.

“It’s a known fact that 80 percent of learning is visual. Grown-ups have been using vision for so long they forget how important it is,” Schwarz said.

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According to a press release from the Mississippi Optometric Association, 15 percent of third graders in Mississippi didn’t pass the exam.

Schwarz said undiagnosed vision problems might be one of the reasons some students underperformed. While many students pass the vision screenings at their school, Schwarz said it’s important for all children to receive a comprehensive optometric examination.

“Everybody assumes there’s no problem with a child’s vision after they pass a screening but even a child that checks out with perfect vision can still have a vision problem,” Schwarz said.

A student is eligible to receive a free eye exam after their parent or guardian provides school documentation stating the child failed the exam. When making an appointment with the clinic, the parent or guardian needs to indicate they’re scheduling their child for the free third grade eye exam.

Schwarz said the clinic will help uninsured students with vision problems receive necessary eye care products such as eyeglasses.

“We don’t want to just recognize the problem, we want to solve the problem for these children,” Schwarz said.

A parent or guardian whose child failed the exam but is insured will need to cover the co-pay for the visit.

Schwarz said there are several indications a child might have a vision problem, including underperforming in school, headaches, fatigue and complaining about being tired when doing homework but instantly energized afterwards.

For more information, contact the clinic at (601) 798-3164. The clinic is located at 3300 Hwy. 11.

Several other local clinics are offering free eye exams, including the Picayune Eye Clinic, which is located at 908 Sixth Ave. To schedule an appointment, call (601) 798-4182. Participating optometrists include Dr. Lori Blackmer, Dr. Marc Hautot and Dr. Erin Anderson. The Poplarville Eye Clinic located at 1249 S. Main St. in Poplarville is also offering free eye exams. To schedule an appointment, call (601) 795-0137. The participating optometrist is Dr. Bethany Harrington.