Program helping the legally blind

By Al Showers - bio | email

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - Imagine seeing small objects like your own finger print for the first time. For one blind Picayune teen, it became a reality thanks to a low vision clinic held at Pearl River Community College. The clinic is designed to maximize the vision of legally blind students with the help of technology.

Picayune Resident Nola Parker said, "Yaa! This is neat! Isn't that neat?"

16-year-old Nola Parker can hardly believe her eyes. The legally blind 10th grader can now see objects close up with the help of a magnifier closed circuit television device.

"I can see so many things that I wasn't able to see before like my finger print. I couldn't believe the detail in things I missed," Nola said. "I'd look at a leaf, and it just looked green. I could see the general shape, but now I can tell there are winkles. I can read a book now. I don't have to get it on audio or have someone read it too me."

Nola's mother Denise Parker said, "I've had to do her make-up for special events. Now, she can do that herself because of this."

The equipment will go home with Nola free of charge. The Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation and the Rotary Club of Poplarville put up 174,000 dollars to bring the clinic to town.

President of Sight Savers Jeff Haddox said, "We give them a good solid low vision evaluation by Dr. Stribling who is one of the for most low vision experts in the state. He then recommends what equipment they need to give them the best vision with the little eye sight they do have. So we buy that equipment for them."

Dr. Ted Alexander, CEO of the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, said, "We're going to screen, probably before this process is completed, close to 6,000 students."

So far the program has provided free eye exams and purchased visual aid tools, like eye glasses, for nearly 1,800 students in Hancock and Pearl River Counties.

"It's just wonderful," Nola said.

"This is something she can use at home as well as school. They told us it's hers now. We wouldn't have even known about this piece of equipment, I mean could we afford it, we wouldn't even known about it," Denise said. "(We are) very, very thankful."

The goal of Sight Savers America, is to make sure all students in Mississippi and Alabama with sight problems get the visual tools they need to succeed in school.

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