Patriot Perspective: A new look at the Pequot Lakes School District's vision – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

There is no doubt that Pequot Lakes Public Schools inspire a passion for learning to ensure success for every student, and the district has added a new piece of technology to help support students on their journey to success.
When it comes to the vision – I mean literally the vision of its students – Pequot has hit one out of the park with its newly acquired Welch Allyn Spot Screener.
The Welch Allyn Spot Screening system allows for quick, no-touch, no-subjectivity assessment of vision using a handheld, portable device that can quickly and easily detect vision issues on adults and children, even as young as 6 months old.
The Spot Screener is a photo-refractor that uses an infrared camera that captures and analyzes images of the pupils to assess the correct alignment of each eye and estimate the eye refractive error.
It looks a little bit like an old Polaroid camera. It is held three feet from the eyes, has lights and sounds that help engage children to look where they need to for the measurement to occur, and it happens in less than a minute!
The results are either “Screening Complete, all measurements in range” or “Complete Eye Exam Recommended” and are instantly displayed on the screen, along with the actual measurements that are out-of-normal range.
Those results can be saved, sent wirelessly to a printer to be printed out, and sent with a vision referral to assist the provider with identifying possible treatments.
Not only does this device reduce the amount of time it takes to screen a student’s vision, it also allows us to include every student in our school-wide screenings.
It eliminates the subjectivity of whether or not a young student knows their shapes or letters, and it allows students with disabilities in communication and cognition to be screened along with their peers.
Vision screenings at school are not used to diagnose vision problems, but they are used to identify and treat preventable visual impairment at the earliest possible age. The most common eye disorders in children include:
Both of these disorders can be treated when found early.
Other vision conditions that are found during screenings can include nearsightedness (myopia), a condition that makes faraway things look blurry; farsightedness (hyperopia), a condition that makes close-up things look blurry; and astigmatism, a condition that makes both close-up and faraway things look blurry.
The Spot Screener does not completely replace the more well-known SLOAN or LEA vision charts for screening, as those are the standard screening tests for visual acuity.
But the Minnesota Department of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics do recognize the important contribution to the screening process made by the new technology.
And, now, thanks in part to a generous grant from the Patriot Foundation, we are fortunate to have both measures available to our students.
Pequot Lakes Schools’ own Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener will be an invaluable tool to help ensure the success of its students by helping with early detection and treatment of eye conditions that could impact our students’ success.
Tracy Princivalli is the Pequot Lakes School District nurse.