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Vision Correction When You Can’t Communicate Your Needs: Thomas’ Story

Undetected Vision Disorder in Child With Down Syndrome Identified by the WELCH ALLYN SPOT Vision Screener


Thomas Grenier was an active, outgoing, friendly and social eight-year-old when his mother, Debbie, became concerned about his vision. He is the youngest of eight and Debbie always made sure her children stayed up to date on annual preventive health visits, including vision screenings. Even though Thomas had initially passed his vision screening, Debbie was not 100% confident in the results.

A Village of Support for Thomas

Thomas has Down Syndrome and several developmental disabilities. That school year his vision was tested with a visual acuity chart at the eye doctor. Debbie was not sure how his developmental disabilities impacted his ability to accurately answer the doctor’s questions. “Thomas didn't know his letters very well and I was never really confident that he understood the questions about what looked clear or blurry during the exam,” says Debbie.

Several members of Debbie’s “village of support” were keeping a close watch on Thomas at school. Teachers noticed that he was holding books and other papers close to his face in class. At home, his family noticed that he was sitting on the floor close to the television instead of on the couch. The Pompey Lions Club was doing a vision screening event at Thomas’ school and the people performing the screening were having a hard time getting Thomas to be cooperative, as he tends to be busy and not sit still for very long. Rosemarie Bush, a neighbor who works in Thomas’ school and is part of the Pompey Lions Club jumped in. “I was persistent, because I knew him personally and that I would be able to get a reading,” said Rosemarie.

"Our programs are designed to make sure children in our community have access to vision screenings and corrective glasses. The SPOT Vision Screener helps us carry out that mission.”

Lion Rosemarie Bush, Pompey Lions Club

19 million children under the age of 14 are living with a vision disorder1, and 80% of vision disorders can be prevented or cured2. Studies also show that ophthalmologic conditions are more prevalent in children with Down Syndrome3, so getting a better understanding of Thomas’ vision issues was critical.

Understanding Instrument-Based Vision Screening

The Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener is the device used by the Pompey Lions Club (Pompey, NY) to do screening events for children in the community. Rosemarie helps manage the program and thought an instrument-based screener would help provide accurate screening results for Thomas. “The Pompey Lions Club has screened more than 900 children each year at area schools and daycare centers, so I’ve seen firsthand how discovering an undetected vision disorder can help a child,” said Rosemarie.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends instrument-based vision screening for children who are unable to perform a visual acuity chart test.4 “Our optometrist was very supportive of having Thomas screened with the Spot Vision Screener and felt it would provide a better assessment of his vision,” says Debbie. “We felt we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”


“The SPOT Vision Screener can help when a doctor can’t get a good handle on a child’s needs because they have issues completing a regular eye exam.”

Debbie Grenier, Thomas’ mother

Clear Results Help Thomas

Even though it was a new experience to be screened with the Spot Vision Screener, Debbie reports that being screened with the device was not disruptive for Thomas. The results indicated that he needed glasses to correct his vision. Thomas went to an eye care specialists to get glasses and has worn them ever since. “We finally had an accurate picture of his vision issues,” shared Debbie. “I don't know how his vision issues would have been identified so quickly if it wasn't for this screening device.”

Getting glasses and having his vision corrected helped Thomas in school and his everyday life. “If you can’t see what you’re doing and where you’re going, the world can be a lonely place, especially if you can’t communicate very well,” said Debbie.

Instrument-Based Screeners Help Save Sight in Children

“Helping children like Thomas is rewarding for us,” says Rosemarie. “Lions are ‘Knights of the Blind’, and our programs are designed to make sure children in our community have access to vision screenings and corrective glasses. The Spot Vision Screener helps us carry out that mission.”

Debbie and her family are thankful for the interest Rosemarie took in Thomas and for the work the Lions Club does to screen children’s vision in the community. “Using the Spot Vision Screener is a no-brainer, especially for kids with developmental disabilities like Thomas,” says Debbie. “This device can help when a doctor can’t get a good handle on a child’s needs because they have issues completing a regular eye exam.”

Thomas is a busy 15-year-old now who swims and takes care of his horse, Trudy. He does well in school and is still an outgoing, friendly teenager. “By sharing our story, we hope that other kids like Thomas can get the help they need with their vision.”

Complete the form to learn more about the SPOT Vision Screener.

  1. Ophthalmology Times. Study: Children with vision impairment more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Accessed June 16, 2023.
  2. “80% of Visual Impairment Can Be Avoided or Cured.” Central European Journal of Public Health 12, no. 1 (March 2004): 31.
  3. Mudie, Lucy I., Kaci Pickett, Kaylene Ross, Emily McCourt, and Robert Enzenauer. “Performance of the Spot Vision Screener in Children with Down Syndrome and Other Special Needs.” Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, September 17, 2023.
  4. Instrument-Based Pediatric Vision Screening Policy Statement. American Academy of Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-2548

Baxter, Hillrom, Spot and Welch Allyn are trademarks of Baxter International Inc. or its subsidiaries. US-FLC158-240003 (v1.0) 02/2024