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Commissioner Paul Saner (middle) receiving award, also pictured is U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration Commissioner, Janet LaBreck (right), and Dr. Clifford Scott (President of NECO)  (left)

Commissioner Paul Saner (middle) receiving award, also pictured is U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration Commissioner, Janet LaBreck (right), and Dr. Clifford Scott (President of NECO) (left)

On July 1st, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) was awarded the 2016 American Optometric Association (AOA) Vision Rehabilitation Distinguished Service Award, which is given to those who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to serving individuals with visual impairment to improve visual efficiency. MCB Commissioner Paul Saner accepted the award at AOA’s national annual conference in Boston.  He was joined at the award ceremony by former MCB Commissioner and current U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration Commissioner, Janet LaBreck, as well as Dr. Richard Jamara and Dr. Gary Chu of the New England College of Optometry (NECO).

In October 2010, MCB and NECO partnered to develop an effective solution to the critical need for low vision services in Massachusetts by introducing the innovative Mobile Eye Clinic. This initiative was driven by study conducted by NECO which reported approximately 84,000 individuals in the Commonwealth with vision related challenges had only 37 low vision providers available to serve them. The Mobile Eye Clinic is a full eye clinic housed in a 38 foot van and, staffed by low vision optometrists, can help restore functional vision using low vision devices and other techniques. The van offers these potentially life changing services where residents need them. Prior to the Mobile Eye Clinic, getting to a low vision provider could exceed 3 hours.

To date, the Mobile Eye Clinic has accomplished the following:

  • Visited more than 46 different locations in the Commonwealth;
  • Serviced approximately 9,000 patients;
  • Performed 1,934 adult eye exams and 845 low vision exams;
  • Dispensed more than 1,000 low vision devices; and
  • Reduced the travel time to access these services in Western Massachusetts to 40 minutes.

The destination of the Mobile Eye Clinic is adjusted based on need.  The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), in partnership with the Elder Services of Berkshire County, recently opened a low vision clinic in Pittsfield. On June 17th, Commissioner Paul Saner toured the clinic along with representatives of area social service providers including United Cerebral Palsy, Berkshire County Arc, Berkshire County’s Independent Living Center – AdLib and others. He applauded MABVI and Elder Services of Berkshire County for their collaboration to bring these needed services to the region and free the Mobile Eye Clinic to visit other areas of need in the Commonwealth.

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