Questions & Answers

Is this your child?

Is this your child? Little girl in a white T-shirtThis is the story of a little girl who was categorized by the school system as “learning disabled”:

Sandy is eight years old.  She is energetic and seems bright, but she doesn’t like school and she hates reading.  When she does read, she holds the page very close or leans down over it, and sometimes she gets headaches when she reads.  When she has to read aloud she often skips small words and even whole lines, or re-reads a line she has already read.  Naturally, she avoids reading, and understandably her reading comprehension is well below average.  She has finished her first year of school with extra help from her teacher, but Sandy still can’t read.
Individually those observations aren’t very informative.  But Sandy’s writing is sloppy and she misaligns columns of numbers, making math difficult.  And occasionally she knocks things over.  Taken together, a new picture is forming.

Sandy’s eye doctor did some special testing, called functional vision testing, and referred her to a specialist, a developmental optometrist who did a complete evaluation.   Fortunately her family could afford the specialist (many cannot).   What he found was, for one thing, when Sandy “looked” at the top left corner of a page her left eye saw it but her right eye was seeing the middle of the right edge of the page!  You could not tell that by looking at her.

What to do?  The developmental optometrist prescribed a series of vision exercises and balance training, and after several months of weekly training plus work at home, Sandy “graduated”, and now she is an honor student who loves to read to her little brother and sister.

Three Main Street Success Stories in One Small Town

Binocular Vision Disorder (BVD) is often referred to as “The Hidden Disability”.  A brochure published by Parents Advocating for Vision Education (P.A.V.E.) is included.  BVD’s effects may be subtle but none the less profound.  It can be effectively treated with optometric Vision Therapy (VT) and the following three examples come from one small town in Mississippi from families in Main Street businesses.  These are examples, but Monroe County Children’s Vision Center is not yet funded, and they are patients of others:

1)  One young man struggled all through school because reading was so difficult.  College took 8 years for that reason.  At the age of 30 he was diagnosed with BVD and underwent a course of VT.  Nearing the end of the therapy he announced that he wanted to go to seminary.  With the family’s encouragement he did just that, taking the standard 4-5 classes each semester and making straight A’s!  After several years pastoring a church, hosting a radio program and writing a newspaper column, he and his family founded a new church last year (2016).

2)  A young woman was diagnosed with a “severe learning disability” in the second grade.  Schoolmates taunted her by calling her “Stupid”.  Fortunately, her parents were able to home school her.  She was 21 before she was diagnosed with BVD, but a course of VT resulted in her now being on the Dean’s List at Ole Miss!

3)  Another Mom who runs a small business on Main Street said her daughter had been a virtual non-reader at the end of her first grade year.  A course of VT let her read 24 books all by herself in just three weeks!

And then there is Robert

Robert was an eighth grade running back.  He was proud of having been accepted to the high school football team for the coming fall.  But the day we talked, he admitted he just “didn’t do school” and to being on suspension for having gotten crossways of one of his teachers.  It turned out to be his computer teacher.

On a whim, I asked Robert if he had problems memorizing the football play diagrams on the board and he admitted he did.  I handed him my cell phone with the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) Quality of Life (QOL) Questionnaire.  This is a 19-symptom checklist that is interactive and provides a final score reflective of the frequency each symptom occurs in daily life from “Never” to “Always”.  A score of 20 is baseline for concern about Binocular Vision Disorder (BVD).  Robert scored FORTY!

It is no wonder he doesn’t get along with “school”, and especially that the teacher with whom he had problems was his computer teacher.  Words fly across computer screens.  Lots of choices and little words and funny-looking icons probably were dancing around his screen.  But the teacher wasn’t aware of that.

What happened to Robert?  Fall came and with it, football season.  While his legs were nimble, his mind struggled with what he was trying to see, and then he got in trouble with the law.  Robert has now been permanently expelled and we don’t know what has or will become of him.

Had CVC been operational Robert could have been referred for therapy and possibly a valuable life could have been kept on a solid upward path.

 

You can change a community!

Problem:

  • A child who struggles with reading, or can’t master math, or just can’t run without stumbling, has a poor self-image.
  • Poor self-image leads people, young or old, to behave in ways that limit their potential to be the best they could be. But so do vision disorders and visual processing disorders of the brain, which can lead to the poor self-image.
  • Parents whose child just can’t master school work, even with special help from the teacher, may feel embarrassed, guilty, frustrated, angry, resigned…. Some may take out their frustrations on the child, school administration, or others in their reach.
  • If teachers, coaches and others are not aware of the symptoms, they, too, can become weary and frustrated.

Approach:

  • Making information about vision disorders and visual processing disorders of the brain widely available can lead to greater understanding and lower tensions for everyone.
  • Identifying children who may be suffering from BVD or visual processing disorders of the brain gives everyone a new perspective of the problem.

Dilemma:

  • To identify the problem when there is no affordable help available is an exercise in frustration.
  • Right now there is no facility in Monroe County that can address these problems and provide children the help that can make their schooling successful.

Solution:

 

What is CVC?

Monroe County Children’s Vision Center (CVC) is a research based 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation in Monroe County, Mississippi.

CVC’s mission is specifically to  children from birth to 18 years of age living in Monroe County who have been diagnosed with vision disorders of the eye and/or visual processing disorders of the brain that might impact learning.

CVC will provide diagnosis and appropriate therapies at no cost regardless of the families’ ability to pay because the mission is to all children with vision disorders or visual processing disorders of the brain.

Why is CVC needed?

“Little Miss 59”.  Recently a special education teacher contacted CVC’s Executive Director to see if CVC was operational because she had a student who scored 59 on the the Quality of Life (QoL) Checklist.  A score of 20 is reason to seek a professional diagnosis and her score was nearly three times that high!  But CVC is not open yet, and Southern College of Optometry in Memphis would not take her because she is a Medicaid child. Mississippi Medicaid does not cover evaluation of and treatment for vision disorders, so they would not receive any payment.   YOU can help change that!

170 children were identified as being at risk of Binocular Vision Disorder (BVD) in a sub-population of special education students in only two of the four school districts in Monroe County.   In a brief survey in the spring of 2016, these children scored over the 20 points on QoL Checklist that indicates anyone should receive an evaluation for BVD.  But there are no doctors in the county who provide this examination and CVC is not yet funded!  YOU can help change that!

Approximately one person in every four has eyes that don’t work together correctly even though they may see with perfect acuity (20/20).  This condition is called Binocular Vision Disorder (BVD).  The individuals are probably not aware of their condition because they have always seen that way; and their parents, teachers, friends and coaches are not aware, either.  When this situation exists a child can become discouraged, parents and teachers are frustrated, and at some point the situation may become so strained the child drops out of school.  Statistics show that three of every four juvenile delinquents have Binocular Vision Disorder.  Other neurologically based vision disorders are equally unrecognized but have not been studied in the delinquent population.  Again, YOU can change that!

  • The only developmental/therapeutic optometrist serving NE Mississippi who can provide the necessary therapy is located in Birmingham, Alabama over 220 miles from the farthest corner of Monroe County; and the satellite therapy center is nearly 50 miles from that same corner. CVC will be centrally located in Monroe County, minimizing travel.  YOU can make that happen!
  • This specialist is also the only eye doctor in the area who can provide diagnosis and therapy for certain visual processing disorders of the brain that respond to prescribed frequencies of colored light. CVC will provide all necessary therapies.  YOU can make that happen!
  • Few eye doctors are currently trained as developmental optometrists. While some may do certain tests and limited vision therapy, only doctors who have completed a residency in developmental optometry are certified to perform thorough diagnosis and a complete range of vision therapies.   CVC will have only doctors who are certified or are on track to complete certification within one year.  YOU can make that happen!
  • Further, if Irlen (scotopic) Syndrome (a neurologic condition) is indicated, the nearest diagnostician must come from Atlanta, Georgia to a suitable location to meet with the patient! And the individual must have learned about Irlen Syndrome in order to go to the web and find the specialist!   CVC will provide complete diagnosis and management of all these different disorders.  YOU can make that happen! [link to “How You Can Help” below]
  • It is a critical role of the Executive Director of CVC to provide information and education to the public and especially to teachers and doctors so that responsible individuals become aware of the likelihood of vision disorders in struggling children they encounter. These individuals can be easily trained to intercept children for screening and referral to CVC.  YOU can help spread the word!
Why is it free?

In sum:  Cost vs Resources.  The mission of CVC is to all the children in the county, whether or not their families can afford it.

  • The cost of private care for binocular vision disorders begins at $6-7,000 and can go much higher. The median household income in Monroe County is less than $37,000 (io/profile/geo/monroe-county-ms/).  The cost is simply beyond the means of many families.  Vision therapy involves numerous trips for diagnosis and weekly/biweekly therapy over the duration of treatment.  A significant problem is that many residents do not have cars and there is no reliable public transportation in the county.
  • A major consideration in the decision to provide free care is that Mississippi Medicaid does not recognize vision disorders as an accepted diagnosis yet (some other states do); therefore private insurance, that bases its coverage on Medicaid allowables, does not cover the cost of diagnosis or management. With Medicaid funding currently uncertain, that situation is unlikely to change in the near future.
  • A few of the tests for BVD are routinely performed by all optometrists and are covered by Medicaid; but the reimbursement is so little it would not be economical for CVC to hire someone to do that limited billing when the majority of tests are not covered. Therefore, a decision was made by the Board early in the development of CVC to provide care at no cost to any patient.  Again, the mission of CVC is to all the children in the county, whether or not their families can afford it.
Where will CVC be?

CVC will be located in Amory, the city most centrally located within Monroe County.  The current corporate office address is the home of the Executive Director.

Who are the doctors?

The first doctor will be hired when funding has been received or committed for equipping and stocking the clinic and running it for the first year ($500,000).   CVC is providing information in many venues to raise community awareness and concern in hopes those who hear will also contribute.  While large grants are being sought, every contribution helps.  YOUR contribution is most important!

As soon as that goal is reached the first doctor will be hired.  He/she will be specially chosen to have the following qualities:

  • Be a certified developmental optometrist or on track to complete the certification within one year. Requirements are:  completing four years of optometry school, two years of residency in developmental/therapeutic optometry, and passing the certifying examination given by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)
  • Love children
  • Have the very highest recommendations
  • Be mission minded
  • Be research oriented
Why is CVC special?

The causes of visual disturbances may involve the eye itself or may stem from the brain.  Visual disorders can be resolved by optometrists with special training (developmental/therapeutic optometrists) and visual processing disorders may be addressed by syntonic and Irlen specialists, using a variety of non-surgical therapies.

Different approaches have been used for decades and all are beneficial; however, none of the three traditional approaches is successful in 100% of their patients.  CVC is unique in bringing together all three with the goal of matching different classical therapies to given sets of symptoms.   Data will be collected from each patient according to pre-determined or subsequently established research goals and guidelines and papers will be presented to inform other vision specialists of the findings.  The ultimate goal is to be able to diagnose patients in a manner that will allow the most complete and efficient correction of their specific symptoms.

CVC is Cost Effective

Fact:  70-75% of juvenile delinquents have vision disorders (PAVEVision.org)

According to the Justice Policy Institute, in 2014 Mississippi paid $153,300 per person, per year, to incarcerate juvenile offenders. (http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/sticker_shock_final_v2.pdf, page 12)

Each year, the U.S. incurs an estimated $8-$21 billion in long-term costs for the confinement of young people.

Long-term costs for the confinement of young people

“Sticker Shock – Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration”, Justice Policy Institute, December, 2014, http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/sticker_shock_final_v2.pdf, Page 4

The estimate includes the cost to people harmed by crime and to taxpayers because of the impact of confinement on continuing recidivism when it might have otherwise ceased, the cost of lost educational opportunities and its implications, and the cost of sexual assault of youth while confined.  In total, the long‐term costs of young people’s confinement may add up to an additional $8 billion to $21 billion each year, beyond the hundreds of thousands of dollars states and localities spend to confine young people. *

* The estimates were generated based on data for 2010 and estimated for the year 2011.  Research shows that the impact of confinement on a retained juvenile awaiting court proceedings can be as harmful to the young person’s trajectory as a placement out of their home.  See Barry Holman and Jason Ziedenberg, The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities (Washington, D.C.: Justice Policy Institute, 2006)  (http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/sticker_shock_final_v2.pdf, Page  41)

No data were found for Mississippi juvenile recidivism, but a report from Indiana of 1,196 juveniles released in 2013 showed a 3-year recidivism rate of 30.5%, i.e. 365 children returned either to juvenile or adult facilities. [https://secure.in.gov/idoc/files/2013JuvRecidivismRpt.pdf]   Those youngsters’ lives were not improved during confinement, and possibly were made worse.  The emotional and social cost to the children themselves, their families and community at large is simply incalculable, in part because it is ongoing.

The cost of vision management at CVC may be a few hundred dollars or may go as high as an equivalent $20,000, but therapy packages are a one-time expense. Most importantly, that child will most likely become a productive and contributing member of society, and a tax payer.  Perhaps even a Nobel Prize winner.  YOU can help make that happen!

 

What are some clues?

There are numerous indicators of vision disorders and vision processing disorders of the brain in children and adults that collectively suggest the problem.  Note that not all of the following symptoms will be present in any one individual:

  • Children in school may have trouble copying things from board, book or notes onto paper.
  • They may read and re-read a paragraph or story to grasp its content.
  • They may see letters and numbers moving on the page, board or screen, or even changing places, but unless they tell someone, nobody else knows!
  • They may have difficulty remembering what they have just read.
  • They may seem lazy or inattentive.
  • They may stumble or be clumsy; they may bump into things–all are movements that can interfere with sports ability.
  • They are often misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD, especially if they exhibit high levels of activity. [link to Wendy Beth’s book]
  • Vision disorders often accompany autism spectrum disorders as well.
  • And if they have had a blow to the head, e.g. football concussion, car accident, or fall, newly impaired visual processing may be at the root of various difficulties.
  • Babies can be born with vision disorders as well. [link to my video interview with Dr. Steele] The American Optometric Association says, “Optometrists encourage parents to include a trip to the optometrist on the list of well-baby check-ups. Assessments at six to twelve months of age can determine healthy development of vision. Early detection of eye conditions is the best way to ensure an infant has healthy vision for successful development—now and in the future.”

CVC will work with parents and provide the therapy that can lead to normal sight for their child. YOU can make that happen!   http://www.aoafoundation.org/infantsee/ – Be sure and scroll down to the video, ‘Thomas Sullivan at UMSL’.

Several online sources of information are available.  Some have useful interactive symptom checklists:

COVD.org,

PAVEVision.org,

NORA.cc,

IRLEN.com  and

thecollegeofsyntonicoptometry.com

 

How do you know?

Only trained professionals can diagnose vision disorders and visual processing disorders of the brain.  However, several websites have self-diagnostic questionnaires with which you can screen yourself or a child for possible symptoms of the various disorders.

Binocular Vision Disorder (BVD) is a condition in which the eyes may “see” perfectly according to the E Chart (20/20), but they do not work together perfectly.

  • BVD can be screened with the Quality of Life Checklist at the website of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (org)
  • Additional insight can be found at Parents Active for Vision Education (org) and
  • Optometric Extension Program Foundation (org).

Neurologically based vision disorders are described at three web sites with screening checklists:

  • Irlen Institute (com)
  • College of Syntonic Optometry (com)
  • Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (cc)

If a vision screen indicates the need of professional care these web sites have locators; however, there are none in northeast Mississippi yet.  The one listed in Columbus, MS is a satellite clinic for a doctor whose main office is in Birmingham, Alabama.  That is why it is so important that CVC be funded at the earliest possible opportunity.  YOU can make that happen!

Who are the Partners?

Academic Partner

Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPHCVC is honored to have the College of Optometry, Western University of Heath Sciences (WUCO) as its first academic partner.  The Dean, Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPH, speaking about WUCO states:

“Western University of Health Sciences has a distinguished history, and has set out to be known as a distinctive institution, as expressed by its Institutional Mission Statement:

“To educate, in a humanistic tradition, health care professionals and produce biomedical knowledge that will enhance and extend the quality of life in our communities.

“The nation’s newest College of Optometry will build upon this rock-solid foundation by establishing its own clear identity, delineating a central focus for its educational, clinical, and research programs, and by creating a distinguished reputation.”

“The vision for the College of Optometry encompasses four primary perspectives, and serves four distinct stakeholders: the public, the profession, the students, and the faculty. The underlying philosophy of the College’s vision emphasizes one central theme: building bridges.”

Ida Chung, OD, MSHE, FCOVD, FAAOCVC is proud to be one of WUCO’s first partners in that bridge building effort, and especially pleased to have Ida Chung, OD, MSHE, FCOVD, FAAO, Assistant Dean of Learning, as the Research Liaison to WUCO’s Institutional Review Board that will oversee all research done by CVC.

 

 

 

Corporate Partner

Amy WebbMonroe County Children’s Vision Center is extremely pleased to have Tronox as CVC’s first Corporate Partner, and that  Amy Webb, HR Manager for the US Region, is a member of the Board of Directors.  Her enthusiasm for the work of CVC is truly encouraging as she sees the future value to the workforce of the entire county in the correction of children’s vision problems.

The following information is from the Tronox.com website:

Tronox Limited is a global leader in the mining, production and marketing of inorganic minerals and chemicals. The company operates two vertically integrated businesses: Titanium dioxide (TiO2) and Alkali Chemicals.

“The TiO2 business mines and processes titanium ore, zircon and other minerals, and manufactures TiO2 pigments that add brightness and durability to paints, plastics, paper, and other everyday products. The business operates mines and mineral processing plants in South Africa and Australia, and pigment manufacturing plants in the United States, the Netherlands, and Australia….

“Tronox Alkali is the world’s largest producer of natural soda ash, offering a secure, reliable, and diverse range of high-quality product choices. The Alkali business mines and processes trona ore and manufactures soda ash that is used in the production of glass, detergent formulation, chemical manufacturing, pulp and paper production, and water treatment. It also produces sodium bicarbonate and other chemical compounds used in common industrial and household applications. Our main Alkali operations are in Green River, Wyoming (USA), home of the world’s largest trona ore deposit….

“Tronox’s diverse global workforce of 4,400 employees is committed to safe and sustainable business practices that bring value to its shareholders, customers, employees, and the communities where we work and live.

“Tronox is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TROX.

 

How will CVC continue?

In order to continue caring for patients without charge, there will be ongoing efforts to secure funds.  These will be in the form of:

  • Grant applications to major funding sources: foundations, philanthropists and government agencies.
  • Funding of specific research investigations by corporations that manufacture the equipment and tools used in the proposed studies.
  • Online Crowdfunding campaigns, such as the one at Plumfund.
  • Periodic community fundraisers.
  • Anticipated gifts of gratitude from patient and “graduate” families.
  • Appeals for support at Amazon Smile, Kroger, and other corporations that support registered nonprofits.
How can You help?

CONTRIBUTE!   You can make a life-changing difference in a child today!

  • Lead the way with your personal contribution. Send a check directly to “MCCVC”, 800 W. Commerce St., Aberdeen, MS 39730.
  • Ask your employer if the company provides matching funds for charitable contributions. CVC is a 501(c)3, and the EIN (Employer Identification Number) is 46-3831740.
  • Go to our Plumfund “Help Children’s Eyes Work Together” to make a secure online contribution.
  • Pledge regular (monthly) contributions.
  • Share your concern with friends and family and encourage them to join in the effort to get and keep CVC fully funded.
  • If you are in the Columbus, Mississippi area, choose Monroe County Children’s Vision Center as your charity of choice at com. Kroger will donate 5% of each purchase to CVC at no added  cost.
  • Sign up at Amazon Smile, choose Monroe County Children’s Vision Center as your charity of choice, and Amazon will automatically donate 0.5% of every authorized purchase to the CVC account at no added cost to you

LEARN!  Learn about “THE HIDDEN DISABILITY” so you can begin to recognize symptoms.

SHARE THE WORD!  Be an Advocate!

  • Tell friends, family, FaceBook, Twitter and Snapchat. Share what you learn with your community of friends, clubs, and schools.

https://www.woa-eyes.org/for-educators; http://www.thevisiontherapycenter.com/teachers/what-teachers-can-do; http://www.americasangel.org/parent-resources/ready-to-read/; http://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/learning.htm;

  • Encourage your social group, civic organization or church to invite a speaker to present information about vision disorders.
  • Volunteer to
    • help distribute printed information about vision disorders.
    • help with fundraisers. April 7, 2018, is the Second Annual SeeSmart Scenic 5K Color Run/Walk.
    • serve on the Board.
    • Dream up a fundraiser and help organize it. Contact us so we can help with publicity.
  • Look for and notify CVC of possible sources of funding.

Contact us at info@mccvc.org for any of the above.