OXFORD – Dalton Gordon got a new view of the world on Friday.
The 9-year-old New Albany boy who has optic nerve atrophy was outfitted with a handheld telescope to help him see things at a distance and two magnifiers to help him see close up at a Sight Savers America low vision clinic held at the University of Mississippi.
“It made a lot of difference,” said Dalton after the clinic. “I’ll be able to see the board.” Without the low vision aids, “I get as close as I can, but I still can’t see that good.”
Sight Savers, a nonprofit health children’s vision organization based in Pelham, Ala., connected Dalton and 16 other north Mississippi kids with low vision specialists, sight devices and training free of charge.
The organization is focused on children in Alabama, Mississippi and south Louisiana, but it has projects around the country, said its founder and president, Jeff Haddox.
“I started it in 1997 because I knew kids didn’t get the eye care they needed,” Haddox said. “Then I realized that low vision kids weren’t getting equipment they needed at home.”
The low vision aids let kids read and see small print, but they also can give them a clear view of a parent, a puppy or their own face.
“It really changes lives,” Haddox said, whose organization holds between eight and 10 clinics a year and conducts home visits. For the children who need it, Sight Savers provides a closed-circuit TV setup that can magnify by 75 times and costs about $2,500.
Not every child with vision issues needs the same thing. Arron Hall, 8, of Saltillo came to the clinic with mom Renee Hall.
“I can’t see the little words,” Arron said before his exam.
After an exam, Jackson optometrist Dr. Glen Stribling prescribed bifocals for reading to help sharpen the weak focus of Arron’s eyes. SightSavers will provide assistance for his family to receive the glasses.
The interaction with low vision specialists and the parents of other vision-impaired children was as valuable as the vision aids. For Dalton’s family, Stribling was able to give them guidance on the next steps to help Dalton at school and hope that Dalton may be able to drive using special bi-opic glasses.
“We’re so encouraged,” said Dalton’s mom, Laura Gordon.
Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal