AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - A mobile clinic providing eye tests to children will be stopping in Clovis next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Hope Center.
Children 18 and under who are either covered by medicaid or uninsured will be eligible for an eye exam and if needed, eyeglasses.
Those who would like to attend must register by calling them at 575-440-0443
Those who are uninsured can receive a voucher from the New Mexico Lions Club to attend.
Adventure Vision, the organization hosting the clinic found only three percent of the 16 thousand children who lived in rural areas of New Mexico and have medicaid have received an eye exam in the past year.
Among those places, their data showed Clovis was the number one area of need for vision services
Many kids go years without properly seeing because they do not realize they have vision problems and do not get tested.
“They see things, how they have always seen them, so they don’t even realize it. They don’t know to ask for help whereas if the kid has a stomach, they know to tell mom or dad and know to go to the doctor,” said Janelle Shumaker, director of Community Outreach and Pair Relations at Adventure Vision.
That is why health officials encourage parents to take their kids to the optometrist regularly.
But for many in rural areas that could be a long drive.
According to Adventure Vision, many of the people in these areas have medicaid, however not many providers there accept the type of insurance.
“I had a story from one community partner where they were going to drive the child over the state line to Texas because there was a provider there that was willing to see him instead of New Mexico,” said Shumaker. “So, it just seems like there is a provider shortage right now.”
Undetected eye vision problems can lead to other issues for the child in school, like not being able to see the board.
“But beyond that there is other things like tracking issues, and if a child has a tracking issue, that means they can’t follow the words while they read,” said Shumaker. “We also found a link that some vision problems can also be attached to attention deficit issues as well. So, for kids it may look like they have attention problems but it’s truly that they can’t see in the classroom, so it is hard for them to pay attention.”
Meanwhile, the Downtown Amarillo Lions Club has a similar program called Lions High Plains Eyeglass Program for kids in AISD, Bushland and a couple other area schools.
Students from 1st through 12th grade who cannot afford eyeglasses, can get them for free by going to their nurse who will refer them to the lion’s club.
“This year we have given our 146 approvals and that is with COVID, last year we gave out a total of 203 which is about average,” said John Michie, president of the Lions High Plains Eyelass Program and member of the Downtown Amarillo Lions Club. “For the last two and a half months or so, it has really picked up, which I praise god for that these children have a need and again we want to provide the need for them.”
He says he often gets cards from the students and nurses who they help that make it all worth it.