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Vision Screenings with GoVision Arkansas funded by the Blue & You Foundation

Reprinted with permission from The Sun, April 21, 2024

GoVision AR: Mobile Vision Screenings for Underserved Children

LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences UAMS received a $175,000 grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas to support GoVision AR:Mobile Vision Screening for Underserved Children Across Arkansas. GoVision AR, a project of the UAMS Department of Ophthalmology, aims to address the significant disparities in access to vision care and unmet vision care needs for underserved children in Arkansas through the implementation of a mobile vision clinic program.

In light of the many health care gaps in Arkansas, the GoVision AR program is an essential tool in providing eye care services directly to underserved children at their schools, said Paul H. Phillips, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and the director of the UAMS Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute. By combining a mobile vision clinic with a parent-focused needs assessment, our project presents an innovative solution to the challenges faced by underserved children in Arkansas. As always, we would like to greatly thank the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas for its support of vision care in Arkansas, Phillips said. This program will save vision and reduce blindness for many Arkansans.

Based on research conducted by the Department of Ophthalmology, there are significant nationwide disparities in access to vision care and eye health among children, particularly in low-income families and minority groups. Additionally, rates of childhood vision impairment were highest in Southern states, including Arkansas. Findings indicate that children in Arkansas who fail school vision screenings have significantly inadequate follow-up eye care. The study also found that follow-up rates were associated with key indicators of socioeconomic status, such as race, poverty, insurance coverage and academic achievement.

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GoVision AR goes beyond traditional vision screening by incorporating a comprehensive program that includes instrument-based vision screening, health needs assessments and the provision of free glasses to children who demonstrate need, said Zain Chauhan, M.D., M.S., resident physician and lead grant writer for GoVision AR. This comprehensive approach ensures that children in Arkansas receive follow-up care and appropriate interventions to address vision issues. The mobile vision clinic will improve access to essential eye care services for underserved children in Arkansas, leading to better vision health outcomes and reduced disparities in vision care, including improved follow-up rates and better vision outcomes, identification of barriers to care and strategies to address them, reduction in preventable vision impairment in children, and enhanced understanding of the impact of social determinants of health.

To ensure successful implementation, the program will also collaborate with various community partners, including school districts, community health centers, nonprofit vision care organizations, local optometrists and ophthalmologists, and parent-teacher associations. The GoVision AR program will help fill a vital gap in care for Arkansas’ young people, said Blue & You Foundation President Rebecca Pittillo. Various social determinants of health such as where you live or your family’s income level can prevent children from receiving the care they need, and this program will remove that barrier, not only allowing children to better excel in the classroom but throughout their lives.

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