WesternU, Sight Savers America help Visually-impaired Children Read, Play and Thrive

Sight Savers America case specialist Kelsey Dixon shows Lilly Guzman, 11, how to use an electronic video magnifier at the Western University of Health Sciences Eye Care Institute, Los Angeles.

Covina resident Mackenzie Martinez, 16, received training on his new Freedom Scientific Onyx HD Electronic Video Magnifier (EVM) at the Western University of Health Sciences Eye Care Institute, Los Angeles Nov. 30, 2017. The EVM allowed him to magnify text to make reading easier and even allowed a closer look out the window, a view that included Beverly Hills High School and the Hollywood sign.

“This makes my life so much easier,” Mackenzie said. “I’ll use it for reading, homework and lots of other stuff. This is a real Christmas gift. I’m very thankful for a device like this.”

Mackenzie was one of nine children with severe visual impairments who received free EVMs through a partnership between WesternU and Sight Savers America. Sight Savers America purchases the equipment, which is not covered by medical insurance plans, trains the child and their parents to use it, and places it in the homes of these children with severe visual impairment at no cost to the family. Sight Savers America will also provide extensive follow-up care until the child reaches the age of 19 to ensure the equipment is maintained and used properly.

“We feel like we would not be able to accomplish this without WesternU’s partnership,” said Sight Savers America Grants Manager Michelle Littleton. “A crucial part of this program is having our partners here on the ground in L.A. being able to connect us with children who need this equipment the most.”

The clinic was made possible by generous funding from the Karl Kirchgessner Foundation, the Million Dollar Round Table Foundation, the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, and VFO. WesternU hosted the event at its new Eye Care Institute, Los Angeles, which specializes in low-vision rehabilitation.

“It’s wonderful we have the opportunity to serve the Los Angeles area, especially since there are a number of people who can benefit from the services we provide,” said WesternU College of Optometry Chief of Vision Rehabilitation Service Linda Pang, OD, FAAO. “I’d love to see us partner with…

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