Eye Center, Inc.
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Category: Vision Foundation

Success of Beertopia helps promote Vision Foundation

Success of Beertopia helps promote Vision Foundation

We are beyond happy to say that Beertopia was a success! There was such a great turn out of people. It was a great time spent supporting and raising money for the Vision Foundation. The Vision Foundation is the Eye Center, Inc.’s nonprofit organization committed to providing eye care and glasses to underprivileged children in Manatee County, FL. Its purpose is exclusively charitable. Read more below on how the Vision Foundation has recently helped a mother and her daughter receive the proper care needed.

 

A testimonial from a Vision Foundation recipient

My daughter was born very premature at 24 weeks weighing only 1lb. 9.6oz. She had ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) and received laser surgery before leaving the hospital and has always had to wear glasses. She has been seeing Dr. Laudicina for many years now. She started having problems mostly with her left eye making it almost impossible to see anything. Everything looked cloudy. When she went back to Dr. Laudicina, he found she had cataracts in both eyes and informed me that my daughter needed cataract surgery.  I was so worried and surprised by this, being that she was only a teenager. How could she have cataracts so early in life? He talked to us about the procedure and how important it was to have this done immediately. As a mom, I hated seeing anything happen to my kids and knew we had to get this done.

That night, I went home and prayed; trying to figure out how I was going to come up with the money to pay for not only one, but two cataract surgeries. This was going to be such a financial burden and impossible to come up with right now. I couldn’t let my daughter know all this. She was already upset thinking she was going to go blind. I assured her that was not the case that she had a great doctor and we were going to get the surgeries done very soon.

The next day, I didn’t have any answers as to where the money was going to come from so I spoke with Dr. Laudicina and explained to him my situation. I knew time wasn’t on my side and felt like a horrible mom. This is when he told me about the Vision Foundation and immediately started the process to help me with the bills and even contacted the Cataract Specialist to make sure my daughter got scheduled to see him and get the cataracts removed ASAP.

Thanks to the Vision Foundation my daughter, after having to wear glasses with a strong prescription since before she even walk, only needs readers. Her right eye responded well to the surgery! Unfortunately, the vision in her left eye didn’t return. What was found hiding behind the cataract was retina damage due to the ROP. Thanks to Dr. Laudicina and his expertise and passion for restoring sight, he had her see a Retina Specialist; knowing that more could be done to give her sight back that she had lost at such a young age. Now on to yet another surgery… more money to come up with ASAP.

Again, I am struggling and trying to find money to pay for a surgery that couldn’t be pushed off. I spoke to Dr. Laudicina about this and he, again, came to our rescue with the Vision Foundation. I was at work when he told me the news that the Foundation could help! I cried! You see, the surgery had already been scheduled. I had to get it done for her. This is my daughter, young daughter, who is driving, trying to start college, and has her whole life ahead of her. I had to do this. I would pray and figure out where I’d get the money to pay for it after we got through what had to be done.

Now, here we are in Naples, FL and just went through another surgery on her left eye. This time for her retina. She had a tremendous amount of scar tissue removed and there were blood vessels leaking – all from her ROP at birth causing her vision to be blurred and seeing next to nothing. The Retina Specialist said it will take time to heal, but she would have sight restored!

I thank God for doctors, like Dr. Laudicina, who never give up or say, “well that’s the best we can do” but truly believe that SOMETHING CAN BE DONE. I thank God for the doctors who founded the Vision Foundation. They care about people and won’t let money stand in the way of anyone having the gift of sight! Without their help, I don’t know what we would have done! Now she has sight back!

I am truly grateful for the Vision Foundation and the care and treatment she received from Dr. Laudicina and others who he referred us to through this journey of appointments and surgeries.

 

Sincerely,

From a beyond grateful recipient of the generosity from The Eye Center Inc. Vision Foundation

 

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Beertopia | February 24, 2018

Beertopia | February 24, 2018

Beertopia, the Vision Foundation’s annual fundraiser, is coming up on February 24, 2018! This entertaining night will be filled with craft beer from around the world, delicious cuisine, an impressive selection of silent auction and raffle items, and a live performance by Kettle of Fish.

 

Beertopia is presented by Blue Point Brewing and hosted by Gold Coast Eagle Distributing in their spacious loading dock… a very unique venue to which we’re lucky to have access!  Based out of New York, Blue Point Brewing has been brewing high-quality, award-winning beers for nearly 20 years. Vendors for this event will include some of the finest local cuisine, like Cedar Reef Fish Camp, Swordfish Grill, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Chicken Kitchen, Birdrock Taco Shack, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, enRich Bistro, Cafe Baci, 3 Keys Brewing, and more!  

 

There will be an assortment of beer that will impress any beer enthusiast or beer drinking novice. Don’t worry – if you’re not a beer drinker, there will also be plenty of drink options to choose from!

 

The Vision Foundation is a nonprofit organization created by the Eye Center, Inc. The doctors at the Eye Center are not only committed to giving their patients excellent care, but they are also passionate about helping others, especially children, who may not be able to afford the eye care they need. That’s why the Vision Foundation is committed to providing eye care and glasses to underprivileged children in Manatee County, FL.

 

Here’s a wonderful story that illustrates the Vision Foundation’s impact on our local community. Recently a teenager presented to us with cataracts, who was in need of a crucial but costly cataract surgery without even realizing it.  The cost of this surgery would have been a significant financial burden for the family, but the Vision Foundation was able to secure funding for the surgery and other related medical expenses, and our own Dr. Brad Laudicina is offering ongoing care and follow-up examinations for the patient at no cost. It’s an honor to give the gift of eye health however we can to our community.  You can also read more about the Vision Foundation in our blog archives.

 

This event will also benefit the Hernando de Soto Historical Society. This organization, of which Dr. Michael Mackie is a longtime member, fosters and facilitates an appreciation of Manatee County’s Spanish – American heritage and cultural alliances through community collaborations, charitable giving, and special events like the Seafood Festival and Grand Parade, since 1939.

 

Should be a great time! We hope to see you all there.  Purchase tickets online… coming soon!

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Eye Center Inc.'s Vision Foundation Helps Fund Turning Points Free Eye Clinic

Eye Center Inc.'s Vision Foundation Helps Fund Turning Points Free Eye Clinic

Turning Points recently installed a new Eye Clinic in the Free One Stop Clinic at the Bill Galvano One Stop Center located at 701 17th Ave West in Bradenton.

The Eye Clinic now offers optometry and ophthalmology services and is another extension of the many specialty services that are offered at the One Stop Clinic. The Clinic offers primary care services to qualified Manatee County residents every weekday, along with limited on-site blood tests, and Hepatitis C treatment. These specialty services are also being offered: Audiology, Cardiology, Dermatology, ENT, Gastroenterology, Gynecology, Nephrology, Pharmacy, Podiatry, and Pulmonology.

A complete and thorough eye examination will be offered to One Stop Clinic primary care patients who fail the general eye exam during their primary care visit. The Eye Clinic examination will include and facilitate testing for cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases (from diabetes or other causes), treating minor eye injuries, determining prescriptions, measuring existing prescription glasses, writing prescriptions for new glasses, determining systemic diseases, prescribing medications and referring patients for special tests, surgeries and laser treatments. Photos of the retina and optic nerves will be taken to compare for future exams or to send out to specialists. Prescriptions for glasses can be filled at the Eye Center through the Eye Center Inc. Vision Foundation.

“The goal of the Eye Clinic is to prevent blindness amongst our patients and to restore vision”, reports Dr. Linda Christman, MD. The installation of the Eye Clinic was spearheaded by Dr. Christman with major funding granted by the Mary Parker Foundation along with Dr. Mackie and the Eye Center Inc.’s Vision Foundation with equipment donated by the Eye Associates. Collaborations and partnerships include Dr. Allarakhia, the Eye Center, the Eye Associates, Blessings International and Cares America.

The volunteer optometrists and ophthalmologists have already started treating and referring patients for cataracts, glaucoma, blindness, and vision issues pertaining to Diabetes. The volunteers include Dr. Christman, Dr. Caravella, and Dr. Barja. However, more volunteer optometrists, ophthalmologists and assistants are needed. Funding is also needed for ongoing purchases of supplies. The whole team of staff and volunteers at Turning Points are proud to now offer this service to the community.

About Turning Points

Turning Points and our Bill Galvano One Stop Center partners provide a remarkable variety of services designed to assist individuals and families on their path to financial stability and independence. Turning Points is the one stop shop for preventing and ending homelessness in our community. We provide day resource services (such as hot showers, laundry services, clothing, food), employment services, rental and utility assistance, veteran’s services (employment, housing and childcare), and free medical and dental care for the uninsured and underinsured. 10,827 people received help last year with critical services targeted to the essential needs of people in crisis. Turning Points can only provide this high standard of service because of our caring, compassionate volunteers and strong community support.

About the Vision Foundation

Eye Center Inc.’s Vision Foundation was officially created in 2013, and is a nonprofit organization committed to providing eye care and glasses to underprivileged children. Its purpose is exclusively charitable. Through the Vision Foundation, and with the direction and guidance of the Manatee County school nurses, we will be able to provide MORE free eye exams and MORE free pairs of glasses to the Manatee County students in need.

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Vision Foundation helps local students

Vision Foundation helps local students

Each year, students in kindergarten, first, third and sixth grade get their eyesight checked during state-mandated vision screenings in Florida.

The in-school screenings, which usually take place in the fall, help uncover vision problems before they get worse and begin affecting students academically.

But a report released by the Florida Department of Health reveals that a large number of students who were found to have vision problems in Sarasota and Manatee counties do not get help.

In Sarasota County, nearly half of the 627 students who failed their vision screening are sitting in class without needed glasses or with outdated prescriptions, according to the report. In Manatee County, more than 75 percent of the roughly 800 students who failed the screening are in the same predicament. The report, which covers the period from July 2016 to March 2017, accounts only for kids in the four grades screened, and students who weren’t absent on the screening day.

For many students, the repercussions of untreated vision problems are reflected in school report cards. When the school year started last fall, intensive reading teacher Brenda Zofrea noticed that one of her students — a bright, well-behaved eighth-grader at Booker Middle School — wasn’t doing her work. The student had glasses, but her prescription was old and the earliest appointment her mother could book through her insurance was in February, nearly five months away.

“She was a smart girl, but she was just totally held back because she couldn’t see,” Zofrea said. “By February, you’ve pretty much lost the year.”

National issue

It is a national problem, says Robert Slavin, professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.

Slavin was part of a research team that conducted a three-year pilot study on the relationship between vision and reading scores in Baltimore schools. Researchers saw marked improvement in scores for students who were provided needed glasses.

“You have kids failing in school every single day because of this very simple and easily resolved problem,” Slavin said.

Zofrea understood her student’s pain all too well. She had bad eyesight herself as a child, but she was too shy to ask for a seat closer to the chalkboard, and didn’t get glasses until she hit college. She grew up thinking that neon road signs were supposed to look fuzzy, and that math was not her strong suit.

“To this day I don’t have a good foundation in math because I couldn’t see well and missed out on what was going on at the elementary level,” she recalls.

Zofrea, who teaches intensive reading to middle school students who are behind in school, tried to find a way to help her student, but it was complicated.

When Zofrea transferred to a different school in January, the student was still wearing the same outdated pair of glasses.

Seeing solutions

In Florida, two state-funded programs — Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program and Florida’s Vision Quest — help with getting glasses for kids who fail vision screenings. But those programs only serve students who are uninsured.

Sarasota County schools also have access to a Student Emergency Fund overseen by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The funds can be used by administrators and counselors to pay for items, like glasses, that are considered a one-time need for eliminating a barrier to learning.

The fund has paid for six pairs of eyeglasses this year. As the program has grown, in many cases the administrators may not be aware that the money is available, said John Annis, senior vice president of community investment at the foundation.

Typically, when students fail a vision screening, letters are sent home and the school tries to follow up with parents at least three times, but numerous things need to happen after a child fails that initial screening, said Bradenton-based optometrist Dr. Sarah Mackie.

Mackie founded the Eye Center Vision Foundation, a nonprofit that provides vouchers for free eye exams and glasses for students in Manatee County. She said more than 80 students have used the vouchers this year, but that many more have been distributed.

“A lot of those kids are just not getting in,” Mackie said. “I think the biggest issue for parents is transportation and getting time off from work to bring kids to the exams and then return to pick up the glasses.”

In Baltimore, the solution was to bring the process into the schools. Slavin and his colleagues partnered with the city’s health department, the school system and nonprofits to create Vision for Baltimore.

The program brings mobile eye clinics outfitted for on-site services to the city’s schools. Kids are examined and pick out their frames on the bus. In a couple of weeks, the glasses are delivered to the school — usually two pairs, one for school and one for home, because, Slavin notes, kids are kids and it’s not rare for them to lose their first pair. Medicaid pays for a portion of the glasses and the rest is funded through philanthropic support.

The project also switched over to universal screenings that looked at all students in pre-k through eighth grade. Universal screenings are critical, said Collins. Many states only mandate screenings for students in certain grade levels, but that usually leaves a big gap of students whose problems can go undetected for years.

“A part of what we’re trying to do is convince schools that eyeglasses are not just a health issue,” Slavin said. “They’re part of reading programs and math programs — eyeglasses are one of the things you can do to make sure kids are successful.”

This article originally appeared in the Herald-Tribune on May 27, 2017.

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