header image
June 10, 2010

Charles Henry Leach II Foundation Awards Grant for Children with Special Needs Equipment

The Charles Henry Leach II Foundation has awarded a $3,000 grant to the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY) to provide new equipment for the University Eye Center's (UEC) Children with Special Needs Service,  one of the few programs in the New York City area dedicated exclusively to providing comprehensive vision care for special needs children.  This is a first-time grant from the Foundation.

Healthy eyes and good vision are important components of a child's ability to develop their full potential.  Promoting eye care and identifying vision-related issues through routine eye exams early helps put healthy, sighted children on track for meeting developmental milestones that lay the groundwork for social and academic success and future participation in the workforce. 

However, for children with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or other "special needs," vision care is anything but routine.  A number of factors come into play during the process that can make examinations and vision therapy difficult or impossible.  Children with special needs may not have the ability to communicate verbally, or perhaps don't have the muscle control in their necks to hold their heads up to view the standard vision chart on a wall, or, they may become agitated during the exam because they don't understand what is happening. 

The UEC's unique service offers multiply-handicapped children a level of patient care unavailable in most other clinical settings. At the UEC, our team of dedicated optometrists are specially trained in alternative visual exam techniques to maximize results for children with special needs.  On average, vision exams for special needs children at our facility last one to two hours – significantly longer than a standard eye exam. The Children with Special Needs Service currently sees 500 children from birth to age 18 each year.  Children with Special Needs services are part of an active Pediatric Service providing high quality patient care and support for thousands of children annually. 

"Because the path for meeting their full potential is different from their peers, children with special needs are especially in need of regular vision care as part of their overall health care," said Dr. Robert Duckman, Director of the Children with Special Needs Service. "We are most grateful to The Charles Henry Leach II Foundation for this generous grant."

The Optometric Center of New York is the allied and endowing foundation of the State University of New York, State College of Optometry, and is the primary source of private support for its patient care facility, the University Optometric Center, providing grants for projects such as a Homebound Initiative, Indigent Care Project and Scholarship Fund, among others.