Saving Vision with the Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener
For more than 23 years, Fred and Lorri Rieger have been active members of Lions Club International in Long Island, New York. Their focus is on coordinating vision screening events in their community. Each year, the pair coordinates screenings for Head Start programs and conducts events in public schools and other community locations.
They have even traveled to the Philippines to conduct screening events for children. Fred and Lorri rely on the Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener to ensure the success of their screening events. Each year, they conduct more than 1,500 screenings with the device. “The Spot Vision Screener is easy to use at screening events and efficient for preparing follow-up reports,” said Lorri.
The Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener is a handheld, portable device designed to help quickly and easily detect vision issues in patients as young as six months. The device automatically captures an image in seconds from a non-invasive, three-foot distance. The fixation target and sounds help keep a child’s focus. A bright touchscreen displays instant results, indicating whether measurements are in range, or a complete eye exam is recommended.
“The kids think you are taking an actual picture of them,” said Fred. “They will pose in different positions, which is really very funny. Or they will sit down and we will almost immediately say, ‘Ok, you’re done, good job,’ and they can’t believe that’s it.”
Being able to help detect vision issues in babies, toddlers and young children so they can get the treatment they need is something the Riegers are very passionate about. “Detecting a vision issue in a baby and knowing they can get the treatment they need to correct their vision is very rewarding,” said Fred. “The baby can’t communicate if they have a vision issue and parents have no way to know there’s a problem without the screening device.”
We have so much confidence in our Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener for events not only because of how fast and easy it is to complete a screening on a child but because of the other features that help with record keeping.
— Lion Lorri Rieger„
Lorri leads the training of volunteers for their vision events, which typically takes just a few minutes. “I would say after 30 seconds to a minute, they have the basic hang of it,” said Lorri. With auto-capture technology, the screening can be done on both eyes at the same time. Screeners point and click to start the device, which displays the results in seconds. “The people we train get so excited, which is really fun to experience. They are amazed at what the device can do and that they can help children in this way.”
“We have so much confidence in our Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener for events not only because of how fast and easy it is to complete a screening on a child but because of the other features that help with record keeping,” said Lorri.
The Rieger’s screening events can include anywhere from 40 to 100+ children. They can input the names of children who will be screened into the device before the event. Then at the event, as each child is ready to be screened, they can find their record in the device and immediately start the exam.
This saves time and reduces possible data entry errors during an event. “With the speed and functionality of the device, as long as they keep the flow of kids going, we can be done with a screening event in just a couple of hours,” commented Fred.
Follow-up on children who have been screened is an important part of the Rieger’s vision screening program. They feel it is important to not only report on the number of children screened and how many vision issues were detected but also how many of those children get the treatment they need. Often, the Lions Club can provide assistance for follow-up treatment for families who need that support.
“The Spot Vision Screener allows me to download a report in excel for each screening event,” said Lorri. “Within 10 minutes I can input data into the Lions KidSight USA website.” She follows up on children who had abnormal results about a month after the screening to see if they were able to get the treatment they needed. “It’s easy to get the information I need to do follow-up and complete full reporting for our Lions Club,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Rieger’s vision screening work. After pausing screening events for two years, they are happy to be back doing events in schools but are still seeing the impact of the pandemic. Pre-COVID, the average referral rate from a screening event was about 20%. Today, the average referral rate has increased to 30%. “We are hopeful that as we get kids caught up on screenings they missed, and screen time required by online classes during the pandemic is reduced, we’ll see lower referral rates,” said Fred.
The Riegers are committed to helping preserve vision in children and plan to continue this important work in their community. They estimate that have helped screen vision in more than 15,000 children over the years. As a retired elementary school teacher, Lorri has dedicated her life to helping children. According to Fred, Lorri was the one who initially got him involved in vision screening events.
“This is the way I can still help children,” said Lorri. “I used to teach and be there for children in the classroom. I can’t be in the classroom anymore, but by doing vision screenings, I can help them do well in school in another way.”