By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
The Kadima Foundation, a Mexican Jewish philanthropic organization aimed at helping children and young people with special needs, in cooperation with the State of Mexico’s (Edomex) Volunteer Support Social Security Institute (ISSEMyM) and the Edomex branch of Mexico’s Teletón Foundation, which also helps handicapped and special needs children through the collection of private-sector donations for the construction of treatment centers and hospitals, has launched a statewide campaign to help provide glasses to at least 2,000 underprivileged school-age children.
The campaign, which is being promoted primarily through social media, calls on Kadima and ISSEMyM supporters for donations of 250 pesos each to sponsor eye exams and corrective glasses for disadvantaged public school children between the ages of 6 and 12 from across the state.
Free eye examinations are already being conducted for these children at diagnostic centers in hospitals and clinics in the municipalities of Toluca, Tlalnepantla, Netzahualcóyotl, Valley de Bravo, Atlacomulco, Tenancingo, Tenango and Ecatepec.
If the charities meet their goal of 500,000 pesos, all the children should have their glasses by early November.
According to the Mexican Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology (AMOP), nearly 30 percent of Mexican children suffer from uncorrected limited or compromised vision.
Moreover, less than 10 percent of the nation’s elementary and secondary school students undergo a comprehensive annual eye exam, and nearly 20 percent of them suffer a serious vision problem that can impair their understanding of classroom lectures and cause them to do poorly in school, which can ultimately affect the rest of their lives.
The AMOP recommends that all children should get their first eye exam at preschool age and then every year after that.
Childhood impaired vision is a rapidly increasing problem in Mexico and throughout Latin America.
A recent study conducted by the California-based American Academy of Ophthalmology found that Latino children are in fact 48 percent more likely to suffer vision impairment than their Caucasian, Afro-American and Asian counterparts.
Notwithstanding, the AMOP warns that it is not uncommon for parents and teachers in Mexico to misdiagnose children’s vision problems and instead blame their failure to learn on other conditions such as attention deficit disorder.
Learning-related vision problems can affect comprehension performance in reading, writing and concentration.
The AMOP says that all parents should be on the lookout for signs that their kids might need glasses, including squinting, short attention spans, headaches and eye strain.