Mobile Eye Center: Making an Impact in the Community
In the fall of 2004, the College of Optometry made a huge investment in the under-served communities of the St. Louis area by bringing eye care services to them. Thanks in part to a generous Housing and Urban Development grant, the UMSL Mobile Eye Center(MEC) launched what has now been a 12-year mission of bringing vision examinations to the doorsteps of schools and senior centers across the metro area.
The bulk of the schedule of the Mobile Eye Center occurs during the school year. For the 2015-2016 term, our MEC stayed incredibly busy! Working in partnership with Kids’ Vision For Life, the MEC was out 4-5 days a week from August-May, performing eye examinations at public and charter schools in the metropolitan area. The MEC takes College of Optometry students out two days each week to perform examinations under the direction of Linda Marks, OD. Last year, Dr. Marks and Lesa Klein, OD, did an amazing job, performing more than 450 comprehensive, dilated eye examinations on children of all ages.
Our MEC visits students in every demographic, from Head Starts and Early Childhood programs, all the way into the area high schools, which are often the most underserved of all. The opportunities that come from the services we bring allow us to change lives, one pair of glasses at a time.
"It’s amazing to see the difference a new pair of glasses makes to a student’s demeanor; the way their face lights up when they realize the world around them has been just a little blurry and things instantly become more clear when they put on their new glasses. I love that UMSL's MEC provides a front door service to our families, allowing them access to services they may have never known their student needed, from screening to glasses. UMSL makes the process so easy and seamless. They have been a great asset to our school community" commented, Nicole Stockmann, RN, Riverview Gardens School District.
The most common phrase we hear when we ask the school nurses about our services is how grateful they are and how significant the lack of transportation is, when it comes to the vision care of their students. Being able to bring a completely functioning optometric clinic to their parking lot gives the students an invaluable opportunity. Students that have never had an exam, who never realized what they couldn’t see, now have an entirely new world opened up to them. Children who thought they couldn’t read find out they have treatable vision issues, and learn that there is a facility virtually in their backyard where they can receive vision therapy and any further testing that is necessary.
“UMSL’s MEC and Staff are tremendous! Our students are forever grateful for the benefit of this outreach. Due to lack of transportation our students would not have received the services they needed if it was not for the MEC. We truly appreciate your services,” commented, Aigner Channel, RN, Mercy Clinic at Roosevelt High School
Having the ability to bring a complete vision clinic to their schools ensures that the children of St. Louis schools are receiving the very best in eye care, to prepare them for an amazing future and a bright, clear world.
“Just this year alone, to put into a few sentences what UMSL vision services has done for the Grace Hill Head Start program is nearly impossible…from dancing with our kids to being unbelievably patient with them. The best however is seeing a child who received glassed through your services for the first time. They look to their mom and for the first time with a big smile point to the sky and say ‘clouds’. By your gracious gifts you made that happen. Thank you guys,” commented Jeanne Hilgert, RN, Grace Hill Settlement Schools.
If you would like more information on the UMSL College of Optometry’s Mobile Eye Center, please call us at (314) 516-6064, or e-mail Cassidy Cooley at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like information on how you can donate to keep this amazing program functioning, please contact Angel Forsha, Assistant Director of Business Administration, at (314) 516-5131, or e-mail email@example.com.