Value of screening hits home for Iowa KidSight volunteer

Jon Gilmore became an Iowa KidSight volunteer because he knew it was a great opportunity to support a program that provides free vision screening to young children around Iowa. As a University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine student interested in ophthalmology, he also was eager to use the computerized vision screening camera.

When the Iowa Children’s Museum hosted an Iowa KidSight screening, Gilmore’s wife, Jessie, and daughter, Josie, joined him.

“We thought it would be fun for Josie. She was around 13 months old and showed no hint of having vision problems,” remembers Gilmore. “Two weeks later, we got a letter saying that Josie may have a vision problem and we should make an appointment with an ophthalmologist.”

Iowa KidSight, a partnership between the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital and Lions Club volunteers across the state, has provided free vision screenings since 2000. About 5 percent of the children screened are referred to an eye doctor, and of those children, roughly 90 percent require some form of corrective treatment.

Gilmore’s daughter was seen by Pavlina Kemp (10MD, 11R, 14R), UI clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, who diagnosed Josie with anisometropic amblyopia. Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is the most common cause of visual impairment among children, affecting approximately two to three out of every 100 children. In Josie’s case, she was nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other. Since being fitted with glasses, her vision has steadily improved, Gilmore says.

Since its inception, Iowa KidSight has screened nearly 461,000 Iowa children, ages 6 months to approximately 5 years, referring roughly 26,800 children for an eye exam.