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EyeSEE Program Gives 5-Year-Old a New Outlook on Life

Josciah Perez

To preschoolers, every experience they have is an opportunity for growth and development. They depend on their vision to learn tasks that will prepare them for school. While vision problems in children are common, preschool age children generally will not complain about their eyesight, so those problems can be hard to detect.

This was the case for 5-year-old Josciah Tyburski-Rivera of Springfield. Now, thanks to the Early Education Screening and Exam (EyeSEE) program, Josiciah has a new outlook on life.

The EyeSEE program was developed by Live Well Springfield, an initiative of Partners for a Healthier Community (PHC). PHC – a not-for-profit alliance of community organizations founded in 1996 by Baystate Health – is committed to improving the public's health by fostering innovation, leveraging resources, and building partnerships across sectors, including government agencies, communities, the health care delivery system, media, and academia. The EyeSee program works in partnership with the local Lions Club, and with the support of a grant from Children’s Vision Massachusetts, to raise awareness about the importance of early vision screening in preschool-age children.

Before the EyeSEE program came to Josciah’s preschool at the New North Citizens Council Daycare Center, his mother Veronica had no idea he had vision problems.

“We had no idea he couldn’t see. He would sit close to the TV sometimes, so I took him for an eye exam, but he passed. I was shocked to find out he needed glasses,” said Veronica Perez-Tyburski, Josciah’s mother. “The doctor said his vivid imagination made it appear that he saw everything, which can be a problem with kids his age.”

“Conducting an eye exam on a child under 5 isn’t easy,” said Joan Lowbridge-Sisley, coordinator of the Community Health Program at Partners for Healthy Community. “The EyeSEE program has screeners that are specially trained to test preschool aged children. They are also equipped with a new high-tech spot screening device that requires little to no cooperation from the child. The child simply looks into the device and it determines their prescription and prints out the results,” she added.

The program conducts free eye screenings at five preschool program pilot sites in the city of Springfield.

When the Lions screened him, his left eye failed. His mom followed up with his pediatrician, who performed a vision screening. Once again, his left eye failed. Josciah then had a comprehensive eye exam that revealed he had two lazy eyes and considerable focusing problems.

Josciah loves his new glasses.

"I found the perfect glasses. They’re orange and black and orange is my favorite color because it’s the same color as my favorite ninja turtle Michelangelo wears,” he said.

Mom says the glasses have made a big difference in his life.

“Now that he can see his reading skills have improved, and I’ve noticed he has more confidence in himself,” said Perez.

For more information on the EyeSEE program, call 413-794-1455.