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Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s Foresight and Prevent Blindness Northern California Share a Vision

Assistance League of Diablo Valley Foresight Co-Chairmen Ginny Bankerd and Deborah Kern (l), President Margie Basile and Vice President Philanthropic Programs Sally Ryan (r) greet Prevent Blindness Northern California Program Director April Nakayoshi
Assistance League of Diablo Valley Foresight Co-Chairmen Ginny Bankerd and Deborah Kern (l), President Margie Basile and Vice President Philanthropic Programs Sally Ryan (r) greet Prevent Blindness Northern California Program Director April Nakayoshi

Foresight, one of Assistance League® of Diablo Valley’s eight philanthropic programs, was established in 2000.  Since then, dedicated member volunteers have participated in training sessions to learn how to test preschool children for vision issues.  Last year alone, Foresight members, with testing hardware in hand, reported to 30 local preschools to screen 1,500 youngsters.  When detected at an early age, i.e., preferably during early child development, sight loss can be prevented.

Since 1966, Prevent Blindness Northern California has devoted its resources to the preservation of sight for children and adults of northern California.  Direct vision screening services, vision screening training programs, public education, and advocacy increase detection of vision disorders at a treatable stage and raise awareness of eye health and safety; all of which help prevent vision loss and blindness. 

To that end, Prevent Blindness Northern California Program Director April Nakayoshi spoke at Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s regular meeting on January 8 to recount the rewarding history that these two nonprofit organizations had forged in 2005.  Quoting statistics from that year alone, Ms. Nakayoshi shared that Foresight member volunteers had screened 13,000 children, which resulted in referring 400 for full exams and identifying 32 cases of amblyopia. Affected preschoolers had never experienced normal vision.  Intuitively, some had compensated by depending on the "good eye," something that many times escapes parents' scrutiny.  Foresight’s involvement overcame that hurdle.

More commonly known as lazy eye, when left undetected, amblyopia can cause permanent blindness in an eye.   Ms. Nakayoshi asserted that screening children is pivotal in that vision affects learning; the brain needs input from the eye.  She added that screening at such an early age, rather than elementary school-age, increases the degree of recovery.   As one youngster, with the aid of treatment and eye glasses remarked, “The trees have leaves!”  A well-known remedy that addresses amblyopia involves patching a child’s "good" eye in order to engage the "bad" eye.

Nakayoshi then listed the various causes of and additional treatments for amblyopia.  She stressed that vision screening does not replace the eye exam; it merely addresses the ABC’s of eye trouble; Appearance, Behavior, and Complaints.  When two nationally affiliated philanthropic organizations such as Assistance League of Diablo Valley and Prevent Blindness Northern California partner, the goal of providing Gold Standard vision to preschoolers in Diablo Valley is realized.  Children once unidentified, now have visions of becoming teachers, police officers, doctors, astronauts, and yes, even ballerinas.

To learn more about Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s eight philanthropic programs and its two auxiliaries, please visit this website: diablovalley.assistanceleague.org.   Members of the Speakers’ Bureau are also available, free of charge.  For more information about scheduling a speaker to present to your group, please remain on our website, find the About Us column on the left side of the page, and select Speakers’ Bureau.

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