An upstate Illinois optometrist recently completed four decades of service for low-vision children studying at Illinois School for the Visually Impaired.
Forty years ago, Dr. Derrald Taylor of Mokena says ISVI employee Ruth Holmes and several other staff members went to the Lions Foundation of Illinois to get support for low-vision support services after the U.S. Education Department started looking more closely at the difference between blindness and low vision.
Taylor says the Lions Foundation went to the Illinois College of Optometry, where he served as a faculty member, and ever since, he’s been coming to Jacksonville twice a year to help with low-vision service clinics at the school. The most recent one was in March.
Taylor says there are about seven people from the Optometry College who come down, including some residents who want to get an additional year of training under their belts. But, he’s the only left that was there when the clinics started.
“We take a much closer look at their vision and many of these children are already under regular medical care. We will, depending on what they are telling us, recheck their eyes. The main emphasis is to take a closer look at how they see and use the devices available to determine the best ways for the child to use their remaining vision,” says Taylor.
Taylor says the clinics serve about 20-35 children, and each one gets about an hour of help.
The 71-year-old Taylor, who is now semi-retired, has been an optometrist for 50 years. He says he’ll continue to help with the clinics for as long as his health will allow.
“It is very rewarding work and great to help the kids when we can. We can’t always help every child and we aren’t miracle workers. If we can help a child use their vision for learning, where before they couldn’t use it so well, it makes it easier on the teachers and staff at ISVI. They are very dedicated people,” says Taylor.
Taylor stresses that without the Lions Club, the clinics wouldn’t be possible.
“They have really done the bulk of the funding. The glasses are free to the kids, the vision devices are free and that is a reasonable amount of money every year,” says Taylor.
To hear the full interview with Taylor, visit this story on WLDS/WEAI.com.