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Allina Health's Phillip Eye Institute's Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile goes to school

MINNEAPOLIS 02/12/2015

Public school students in Minneapolis and St. Paul who fail the vision screenings provided by Phillips Eye Institute 's Early Youth Eyecare program are encouraged to have follow-up exams. They did not always get them, but that has all changed.

Now, students can climb into the new Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile clinic for fully dilated eye exams and glasses if prescribed. Additional tests – even surgery – can be arranged if needed.

"Students who aren't able to see well sometimes struggle while in school so it's really wonderful that the Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile clinic goes directly to schools to provide eye exams," said Christine Vang, principal of Como Park Elementary in St. Paul. "It helps families overcome barriers, such as lack of transportation or insurance, that might prevent them from taking their children to get vision care. Being able to see better helps all our students be more effective learners."

"We have the capacity to treat about 20 students a day with vision problems that are significant enough to make learning difficult. In addition, we can detect and begin the correction of eye problems that could become life-long impairments," said Carol Johnson , OD, an optometrist who performs exams in the Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile clinic.

Most of early childhood learning takes place through vision, but one in five St. Paul students last spring were referred for further testing. Studies have shown that vision is the top health disparity contributing to gaps in student achievement. Educators and medical professionals say that regular screening, along with follow-up and correction, are essential for students to be successful. A child with uncorrected vision problems is at a distinct disadvantage in reading, writing, playing games at home, participating in sports and other childhood activities.

The Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile was made possible through the Phillips Eye Institute Foundation’s $10 million campaign, Investing in Sight, Changing Lives , and in partnership with the All-Star Game Legacy Giving, Major League Baseball, the Minnesota Twins, the Twins Community Fund and the Pohlad Family Foundation.

See Saint Paul, a partnership among the Phillips Eye Institute Foundation, Saint Paul Public Schools, and the Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation, provides additional support beginning this year for eye screening and follow-up care to 13,000 Saint Paul Public school students annually for each of the next ten years.

The Phillip Eye Institute Foundation started the Early Youth Eyecare vision screenings in Minneapolis Public Schools in 2008 and expanded the program to Saint Paul Public Schools in 2014.

About Phillips Eye Institute, part of Allina Health

Phillips Eye Institute is the second largest eye specialty hospital (in patient volume) in the United States. Dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and disorders, Phillips Eye Institute’s ophthalmologists offer an extensive array of specialty services from diagnostic tests and vision rehabilitation to laser eye treatments and specialized eye surgery. Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. For more information about Allina Health, visit our website at  allinahealth.org and join us on Facebook and Twitter .

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services

For more information, visit us at allinahealth.org, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Healthy Set Go.