Prevent Blindness Program
Established in 1965, Prevent Blindness Oklahoma is the only agency in the state devoted exclusively to preserving sight and preventing the unnecessary blindness of Oklahomans. Programs provided throughout the state include: Children’s Vision Screening Program; Eye Health & Safety Education Program; Information & Referral Services; and Training.
History of the Partners in Prevention Program
In 1986, Prevent Blindness Oklahoma approached the Oklahoma Masons seeking a small amount of funding to expand its Vision Screening Program. Prevent Blindness already had been conducting children’s vision screenings for over 20 years. However, services were limited to the Oklahoma City area. It had always been Prevent Blindness’ goal to provide services to children throughout the state, but that would take money and volunteers.
As conversations continued among Prevent Blindness Oklahoma, the Grand Lodge, and the Masonic Charity Foundation, a natural partnership developed: Prevent Blindness Oklahoma would provide the screening expertise; Grand Lodge would provide volunteers in communities throughout the state; The Masonic Charity Foundation would provide funding.
The Partners in Prevention Program was born
Now, more than twenty-two years later, the Masons are still working with Prevent Blindness Oklahoma to provide vision screenings for children at preschools, day cares, Head Starts, and elementary schools throughout the state. During the 2006-2007 school year, PBO and the Oklahoma Masons have collectively screened 192,789 children at an amazing 967 locations. Of these children 21,059 were referred for professional eye exams. One hundred eighty lodges have assisted with screenings in their communities. The Oklahoma Masonic Charity Foundation has contributed over Two Million dollars to fund the Partners in Prevention Program since its inception.
The importance of a Children’s Vision Screening Program
One in four school-age children has a vision problem. Among preschool-age children, one in twenty has a vision problem. If a child cannot see they cannot read, if they cannot read they cannot learn, and if they cannot learn they cannot succeed.
Some of the problems – such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (muscle imbalance) – can lead to permanent vision loss if not detected and treated in time.
Eighty percent of what a child learns is learned visually. Speech development and motor skills can suffer when impaired vision prevents a child from seeing objects clearly. Vision problems in school-age children can impede learning and cause students to be unfairly labeled “slow learner”.
Often, young children don’t complain about vision problems because they don’t know what they “should” be seeing. Many times parents are not aware that a child has a vision problem unless there is a visible sign, such as crossed eyes.
Research conducted over the last twenty years has shown that vision develops very rapidly during the first years of life. Therefore, problems must be detected and treated early. In an effort to find children with vision problems, screenings are conducted at:
Early Head Starts, Head Starts, day care centers, and preschools: children ages 10months-5yrs
Elementary schools: Pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and third grade children are screened along with new students to the school and any referrals from the other grades.
Prevent Blindness Oklahoma has offered our services to ALL Oklahoma School Districts.
Prevent Blindness Oklahoma screens all children required by state law.
By working with Prevent Blindness Oklahoma to conduct vision screenings, the lodges have the opportunity to truly affect the lives of the children in their communities.
How can my lodge get involved?
For more information:
Prevent Blindness Oklahoma
6 N.E. 63rd, Suite 150
Oklahoma City, OK 73105