North shore artist on a mission to save kids' vision - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

North shore artist on a mission to save kids' vision

Eye screening (FOX 8 Photo) Eye screening (FOX 8 Photo)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

A North Shore man is on a mission to save the eyesight of hundreds of kids. He's trying to establish a statewide network that would provide vital early testing for children who might otherwise miss out on a simple solution to a lifetime of problems.

At 4 years old, Jahmya Richardson is a child who likes to entertain, and she's more than happy to sing her favorite Disney song. But Jahmya's vision is a problem. Dr. Alejandro Leon at Children's Hospital  is asking Jahmya's mother to make sure she wears a patch on her good eye to strengthen the circuitry in the bad eye, and her prognosis is good.

"If she was 16 or older, there wasn't much we could do at that point," Leon said.

Early detection is the key - and the focus of Bob Viosca. Viosca is a 90-year-old artist with a Harvard MBA who has made it his late-in-life mission to expand efforts to catch common eye problems like amblyopia, or lazy eye, and strabismus, crossed eyes, before a child is 6, when those problems can be easily corrected.

"Kids get in school with bad vision, they start cutting up because they can't follow what's going on in class, " Viosca said. "They say that kids got ADD. and put em on drugs."

Viosca is looking for support for a readily available eye testing program that can be conducted in shopping centers or other public places and is similar to a program in place in California, which has detected eye problems in hundreds of kids with vision problems who may otherwise  fall through the cracks.

"That's the problem  - they've got to be done before they go to school. I think only a third of kids get a comprehensive test before they go to school," said Viosca.

Dr. Leon agrees that early eye tests are important, but he says equally important is follow up. It's one thing to catch a problem and another to make sure the right steps are taken.

"If you have a patch, it doesn't mean you don't need to be screened again," he said.

For now, Viosca just wants to expand efforts to catch the problem.

"Why? Because it could save the eyesight of thousands of children, that's why," he said.

And he's determined to  succeed in  his mission to save vision.

The California vision screening program was made possible through corporate sponsorships, which Viosca said have been hard to come by here. The LSU Lion's Eye Foundation conducts vision screenings in all private schools, and they also do a public health and vision screening at Lakeside mall in August. For more information on vision tests, you should  contact your child's pediatrician or the foundation. They can be reached at lalioneyes@bellsouth.net.

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