More than 100 people braved chilly winds to support area Girl Scouts’ efforts to raise money and awareness of vision therapy during a fun run Friday at Lake Hastings.
Lyla Russell, 13, with Girl Scout Troop 012 in Hastings, said she was glad to see so many come out despite the cold weather.
“It makes you feel really good when people come to support something you put together,” she said.
Fifteen Cadettes from four area Girl Scout Troops organized the Vision Therapy Fun Run as a non-competitive, one-mile fun run/walk with vision therapy obstacles, designed to be similar to tests used in treatment.
Vision therapy helps correct binocular vision disorders that can’t be corrected with glasses. This therapy often isn’t covered by insurance companies and involves travel to Lincoln or Omaha.
Dr. Will Ferguson, a Hastings native who works in the field in Omaha, spoke at the event and shared the story of his uncle who went through vision therapy in the 1970s.
His uncle could see with 20/20 vision, but couldn’t focus on his homework for more than a few minutes at a time. When his mother quizzed him on his homework, he knew the answers but something was stopping him from engaging with his homework.
His parents eventually traced the problem to a vision disorder, which was corrected through therapy.
Ferguson said hearing about his uncle made him want to study in the vision therapy field.
“There’s not a lot of people who think about or know about it,” he said.
Ferguson said vision therapy is a learning process similar to speech therapy. Those affected by convergence insufficiency have to retrain their eyes to focus on close objects like books, computers or tablets.
There are tests that can be used to detect binocular vision problems, but they aren’t included in standard eye exams. He said convergence insufficiency can cause motion sickness, double vision or loss of place while reading.
“Often it goes under the radar,” Ferguson said. “The tests are easy, but you have to express symptoms for an eye doctor to do them.”
Emma Leonard, 12, with Hastings Girl Scout Troop 012 said it’s important to let others know about the importance of vision therapy.
“It’s good a bunch of people came out because we can help more people,” she said. “We’ll have more funds to support kids who need vision therapy.”
Proceeds from the event will go to the Hastings Evening Lions Club, a nonprofit group that works to improve the vision of children. The Lions Club collected old eyeglasses for recycling at the event, as well.
“I want to thank the Girl Scouts for all the work they did to put this together,” said Norma Rust, a member of the Hastings Evening Lions Club.
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