Optometrist Craig Eckroth, stands near a piece of eye exam equipment inside the offices of Eyecare Specialties, where he works. Eckroth is one of two optometrists in the office who offer eight vouchers each year to area elementary school students during the school year. The vouchers provide free eye exams and reduced-cost lenses and frames to students who need eye care, but whose parents cannot afford it.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Optometrist Craig Eckroth, stands near a piece of eye exam equipment inside the offices of Eyecare Specialties, where he works. Eckroth is one of two optometrists in the office who offer eight vouchers each year to area elementary school students during the school year. The vouchers provide free eye exams and reduced-cost lenses and frames to students who need eye care, but whose parents cannot afford it.

Seeing clearly

Area optometrists donate services to needy elementary school students

Advertisement

— When the Colorado Optometric Association said no, Drs. Craig Eckroth and Ron Danner said yes.

Until 2005, the Optometric Association sponsored a statewide program offering eye exams and one pair of frames and lenses to schoolchildren whose parents couldn't afford them.

A general lack of interest in urban areas, however, prompted the association to discontinue the program, Eckroth said.

The news hit Moffat County hard.

"We really were on board here," Eckroth said.

So, he and Danner, his business partner at Eyecare Specialties, decided to continue the program themselves.

Each year, Eckroth and Danner provide eight vouchers apiece that provide eligible area elementary school students a free eye exam and discounted eyeglasses. Vouchers are given to area elementary schools, which then determine which students are eligible for the program based on results from routine in-school vision screenings.

The program is tailored specifically for students without Medicaid, insurance or other means of paying for eye care.

"We try to catch kids who fall through the cracks," Eckroth said.

Of the 16 vouchers he and Danner provide annually, Eckroth estimated nearly all of them are redeemed each year.

Eckroth said he thinks the program's success is measured by the effect it has on student's academic achievement.

"There's such a major part (of learning) that we acquire through the visual system," he said, adding that about 80 percent of what students learn in school comes through sight.

"You can't perform at a high level if you're not seeing clearly or comfortably," Eckroth said.

Helping students reach that goal comes with a price.

An eye exam and eyeglasses, complete with frames and lenses, usually cost at least $200, Eckroth said.

Through the voucher program, however, $20 buys needy students an eye exam and a new pair of glasses with lenses, if the child needs them.

The elementary eye care program will take a respite until school starts again in the fall.

However, a similar service at the clinic operates year-round.

InfantSEE, a nationwide program, offers free, one-time vision assessments to children ages 6 to 12 months. The service is open to any infant between those ages, Eckroth said.

Through the program, Eyecare Specialties offered the free assessments to 55 area children last year, he said.

To schedule an appointment through the InfantSEE program, call 824-3488.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com.

Comments

kkcmsw 6 years, 6 months ago

Well, I'm glad that Eyecare Specialties does something to help those who fall through the cracks but they do very little in comparison to other places (other communties) that I have witnessed. It would be great if they could step their generousity up a notch.

0

George Robertson 6 years, 6 months ago

Well kkcmsw, how about you kick in the cost of another 16 vouchers out of YOUR pocket. I can not imagine that you would question the generosity of these two men and indicate that THEY should do more!

0

Craig_gal 6 years, 6 months ago

its great that they GIVE this service I feel it is unfair to ask anyone to step up their generosity. Now I just wish someone in this area would see children that are on Medicaid.

0

lonelyone 6 years, 6 months ago

You know, with the cost of everything going up and everyone with their hands out for this program and that, it's hard for these business' to give to everyone. And believe me EVERYONE feels like they deserve it more then the next person or club that walks through the door. Maybe Eyecare Specialties could do more, but I think we should just give them an atta boy for what they already do. I know years ago an exam cost about $70 and an average pair of glasses.......lens and frames where about 150.00 or more. Now inflate that for todays prices and that is alot of money that these guys miss out on. I know that is not what they actually pay, but it's what they lose in dollars for their business. For that we should not complain they don't do enough.

0

50cal 6 years, 6 months ago

wow, I think they were very generous good for them. Now they didn't do enough? How about parents get jobs with benifits? make enough money to pay for their kids. don't have kids if you can't pay for them. Ask not what your country can do for you Ask what you can do for your country.

ANYONE remember anything about that? I've got an idea, stop for a minute tomorrow and think about the men who stormed ashore on some beaches in france 64 years on the sixth of june ago fighting for your freedoms. Then get off your butt and by your own glasses.

0

lonelyone 6 years, 6 months ago

I know times are tough and many people can't get jobs that pay 20 some dollars an hour and have full benifits too. I know it's hard to pay for things kids need and still put food on your table at times....or now, gas in your car so you can go to work to pay for everything! but there has to be a way to get glasses for your kids if they need them. Sometimes these eye Drs. will have old frames that just don't sell anymore at a very cheap price and you can maybe make arrangements to make payments with them. Craig gal, are you saying none of the eye doc will take kids on medicad? If they take adults, they have to take kids don't they??

0

Really 6 years, 6 months ago

Lions' Club has scholarship programs to get glasses for kids who need them - they have done this for years.

0

50cal 6 years, 6 months ago

Just saying lonely that people need to stand up for their ownselves not rely on everyone else the times were allot tougher when I came home, we never not once took hand outs or government money to pay for the things we needed if that meant that I had to work two jobs to pay for the things we needed then i did it charity starts at home. People should pick them selves up not wait for others to do so. the whole point was, someone wrote that eye care spec. should do more. Obviosly someone feels that they are entitled to charity when they are not. Rainbow your right there are actually many places in craig that will help out people only have to ask.

Lonely find me some of these people that need jobs with benifits and are worth a damn and I will hire them because in all this economic downturn i still can't hire enough people.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.