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"Instant" vision screenings conducted

MEYERSDALE - Through a collaboration with the Somerset County Blind Association and the Meyersdale Area School District, students received vision screenings that took seconds with an accuracy rate of more than 95%.

Amy ​Baglio, Community Outreach Coordinator with the Somerset County Blind Association, worked with the District’s nurse, Amy Rough, MSN RN CSN, to conduct these vision screenings as part of the annual health screenings for students in the elementary and middle school. 

“The Blind Center is mandated to provide screenings to Headstart and they always helped us with kindergarten screenings to ensure students start school with healthy eyesight,” explained Rough.

Baglio used a Plusoptix vision screening camera that can instantly identify a variety of vision problems, including: Lazy eye, Astigmatism, Farsightedness and Nearsightedness.

This service was made possible through a grant obtained by the Somerset County Blind Association through the United Way to provide vision screenings to children in Somerset County.

According to Baglio, these screenings have taken place at approximately 35 locations including schools, Head Starts, private preschool and daycare programs in Somerset County.

Though 95% accurate, Baglio said these screenings are most helpful in helping to identify vision problems in the early stages. However, she emphasized the need for regular eye examinations performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. 

“Vision screenings can help to detect eye issues in the early stages and must be conducted regularly as eyes may change over time,” Baglio explained. 

“This instrument-based screening can often be performed at an earlier age and allows earlier screening for risk factors that are likely to lead to amblyopia and poor vision,” added Rough. 

Rough said this process had many benefits both to students  and their families and the District.  

“This instrument improves overall results by reducing false-negative results. Some students have difficulty understanding the directions of a traditional eye acuity test, and others may have difficulty communicating what they may be seeing,” she explained. “This camera eliminates these potential scenarios.”

“Due to the pandemic and social distancing concerns, we felt this was a safer vision screening process,” Rough added.