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Back-to-School Checklist Should Include Trip to Eye Doctor

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Parents and students throughout the country are crossing items off their back-to-school checklists, but most are missing an important task to ensure learning success – a visit to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. According to an American Optometric Association (AOA) survey of K-12, 81 percent believe vision and learning are interdependent.

“Healthy vision is critical to learning and excelling in school,” said Dr. Shawna Heddinghaus, O.D., of Fireside Eye Care. “Comprehensive eye exams should be performed to detect problems like astigmatism, eye coordination and moderate amount of farsightedness, conditions that can prohibit optimal learning.”

Many experts believe that approximately 80 percent of learning comes through a child’s eyes. Reading, writing and computer work are just a few of the tasks students are expected to perform daily that require visual skills. As classrooms adopt more technologically advanced tools, such as interactive blackboard presentations, the dependence on adequate visual capabilities will increase.

  • Visual acuity is measured at several distances so students can comfortably and efficiently read, work on the computer and see the blackboard.
  • Focusing is an important skill that is tested. Eyes must be able to focus on a specific object and to easily shift focus from one object to another. This allows the child to move visual attention from a book to the blackboard and back.
  • Visual alignment and ocular motility are evaluated. Ideally, the muscles that aim each eye converge so that both eyes are aimed at the same object, refining depth perception.
  • Binocular fusion (eye teaming) skills are assessed. These skills are critical to coordinate and align te eyes precisely so the brain can fuse the pictures it receives from each eye into a single image.
  • Eye tacking skills are tested to determine whether the child can track across page accurately and efficiently while reading, and can copy material quickly and easily from the blackboard or another piece of paper.
  • Testing preschoolers’ color vision is important because a large part of the early educational process involves the use of color identified.
  • Eye-hand-body coordination, critical fro handwriting, throwing a ball or playing an instrument, and visual perception, used to interpret and understand visual information like form, size, orientation, texture, and color perception, are important visual functions that are reviewed.
  • Overall eye health is determined by examining the structures of the eye.

Studies indicate that some children with undetected vision problems can be misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA). The AOA survey revealed that 64% of teachers witnessed a direct improvement in a child’s academic performance and/or classroom behavior after an eye or vision problem was diagnosed and treated. If your child experiences any of the following, an optometrist should be consulted about a possible vision problem:

  • Loses place of reading
  • Avoids close work
  • Tends to rub eyes
  • Turns or tilts head
  • Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing
  • Uses finger to maintain place when reading
  • Omits or confuses small words when reading
  • Consistently performs below potential
  • Struggles to complete homework
  • Squints while reading or watching television
  • Has behavioral problems
  • Holds reading material closer than normal

Early detection and treatment are key in correcting vision problems and helping children see clearly. The AOA recommends that a child’s first eye assessment take place at 6 months of age. Comprehensive eye exams should be conducted beginning at age 3, before a child enters school, and then every 2 years, unless otherwise advised by an optometrist. In between exams, parents and teachers should monitor children for the more prevalent signs that a student’s vision may be impaired.

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Time for Republicans to rally around President Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump will formally accept the Republican Party nomination for President at the Republican National Convention next week.

America is a country divided and by virtue of accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for president, half the country will embrace him while the other half will want nothing to do with him.

The divide between Democrats and Republicans is nothing new, but what is new is the use of lawfare to target political rivals. Here in Illinois, the moment President Trump and his delegates filed their paperwork to be on the ballot in the Land of Lincoln, a group of far-left radicals immediately filed an objection to the filing. The objection was an outlandish legal charge that President Trump was the instigator of the events on January 6th, 2021, and was therefore not eligible to be on the ballot.

In the end these bogus accusations went nowhere. Even legal experts who were no fans of the 45th President thought the objection was ridiculous. But this is the state of affairs in politics today. Instead of putting ideas on the ballot and campaigning on the merits of those ideas, the far-left radicals are weaponizing our courts and targeting people solely on the basis of political ideology.

Donald Trump is without a doubt the most famous person in the world and like all famous people, he has his fans as well as his detractors. He is not “literally Hitler” as the extremists on the left claim. He is not the enemy of Democracy. He is a candidate for office like any other candidate. His ideas of a strong border, a strong military, low taxes, reduced business regulations, trade deals that protect American interests and a desire to protect America’s interests abroad have been a part of the public discourse for a long time. The notion that these ideas are an “assault on our Democracy” is just nonsense.

President Trump was leading in the majority of the battleground states long before the country saw Joe Biden’s decline in real time during the recent Presidential debate. And the reason he was leading in the polls is because Americans in growing numbers have rejected Joe Biden’s failed policies. The fact that Joe Biden has demonstrated his complete inability to serve has only served to give President Trump even more momentum than he already had ahead of the Republican National Convention.

It is time for our party to rally around our nominee. We cannot afford to continue Biden’s open border policies that are crippling our cities. We need a President who is strong on crime and who will work with state and local governments to keep our communities safe. We need a leader who will put an end to the inflation hurting so many families. I hear all of the time from constituents who are overwhelmed by the price of food and other household necessities. The current Administration won’t fix a problem and in fact they won’t even acknowledge the problem exists.

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I call on everyone who may have voted for someone other than Donald Trump to watch the Convention and rally around our nominee. So-called “Republicans” like Adam Kinzinger who have done the unthinkable and endorsed Joe Biden are not only embarrassing themselves, but they are contributing to our nation’s decline.

We cannot afford another four years of the Green New Scam, the open border policies and the weaponization of the justice department to target political opponents. Joe Biden ran to heal our country and all he has done is fracture us even more. It is time to put America first and Donald Trump will do just that. It is time for Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, and moderate Democrats to rally around President Trump and Make America Great Again!

State Representative Adam Niemerg

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Domestic violence is prevalent in Macoupin County

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Dear Editor,

Domestic Violence within Macoupin County is prevalent. It is destructive and can be both physical and psychological. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. It may include behaviors meant to scare, physically harm, or control a partner. While every relationship is different – domestic violence generally involves an unequal power dynamic in which one partner tries to assert control over the other in a variety of ways. The following statistics are all according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

We can see domestic violence inside the home: through the use and control of household pets. In one study, 85% of survivors who experienced co-occurring animal abuse reported that the behavior of their pets had changed. An even higher percentage of survivors who reported partners had harmed or killed their pet, have also reported their partner for domestic violence. We can also see an increase usage of firearms within the intimate partner violence home. A survey of contacts by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found (of those with access to firearms):  

  • 10% said their abusers had fired a gun during an argument.  
  • 67% believed their abusers were capable of killing them. 

We can see domestic violence inside our schools: as partner violence is not exclusive to the home. There are many instances of violence between dating partners that begin in high school. Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year. Within those relationships, 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.  

We can see domestic violence inside our community: Macoupin County provides a specific set of needs for those victims and survivors of domestic violence. There are several complex concerns within a violent relationship that come to light once action has been taken. Safe Families sees a few main re-occurring concerns within the county:  

  • Survivors have fewer financial resources, making them more financially dependent on an abusive partner.  
  • The lack of rental units or other affordable housing options makes it more difficult for survivors to leave spouses or co-habiting abusers.  

The Macoupin County Safe Families program provides support for residents as they journey the emotional endeavors to leave behind domestic violence. As a contributor to that experience, we will be hosting a Domestic Violence Awareness Walk on October 7th on the Carlinville Square. An event shirt will be included with a ticket sale. The online tickets will close 09/29 at 5pm. Tickets will be sold at 9am day-of event at the Safe Families booth. More information about the Awareness Walk can be found on our website at mcphd@mcphd.net. We urge Macoupin County residents to join us and rally against domestic violence together.  

Juliet Wooldridge and Lilly Booth

Domestic Violence Advocate Coordinators
Community Health Worker
Macoupin County Safe Families

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: National Health Center Week is week of August 6

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Dear Editor,

Community Health Centers are the backbone of our nation’s primary health care system. We design innovative, integrated primary care based on what services communities need most — ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for over 30 million people. In addition to creating jobs and saving lives, collectively we save American taxpayers $24 billion a year in health care costs by preventing and managing chronic diseases.

Community Health Centers are not ordinary medical clinics; we are also problem-solvers who reach beyond the exam room to care for the whole person by providing access to necessities like food, transportation, and housing. Community Health Centers care for everyone, regardless of insurance status. Nationwide during hurricanes, floods, and fires, and locally during the pandemic, Community Health Centers are first on the scene and are vital to keeping America healthy.

The 2023 theme of National Health Center Week is ‘The Roadmap to a Stronger America.’ Community Health Centers serve as the beacon of strength, service, and care in their communities. In moments of pain and loss, we offer support and love. In moments of triumph, we offer hope and a vision for the future. This year’s National Health Center Week theme takes us on a virtual road trip across America, highlighting the achievements and amazing work being done at Community Health Centers in every state and territory. Celebrate the uniqueness of our community and get to know others as we journey across the U.S. together!

Each day of National Health Center Week is dedicated to a particular focus area. We will be working with community partners to recognize and celebrate each of the following focus groups in our community.

As part of National Health Center Week 2023, we invite you to support Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc. to celebrate our mission and accomplishments.

Christy Blank
CEO/Public Health Administrator
Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc.
Macoupin County Public Health Department

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