Pictured here is Parker Family Health Center Medical Director Dr. James McGuinness.

The NJ Department of Human Services, Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Project B.E.S.T. (Better Eye-health Services and Treatment),  and The Parker Family Health Center co-sponsored an event for free eye and blood pressure screenings on Thursday September 28, 2017. The team of medical professionals saw over 60 patients, primarily those with diabetes.

The patients who registered for this free event were referred from a variety of local health agencies and hospitals, including Jersey Shore Medical Center and VNA Health Group. Mary Nicosia, APN, Clinic Director, stated “We are pleased to collaborate with CBVI on this event, and to provide this free screening to Monmouth County residents who are unable to pay or do not have access to eye screenings. It’s all about prevention.”

Vankatesh Bhat, long-time Parker patient who has Diabetes participated in the health screening. When asked about what people with Diabetes should know about the Parker Family Health Center, he responded, “Parker is vital to help people who don’t have health insurance and do not have any other place to go for treatment. The follow-up at Parker is fantastic!” 

Project B.E.S.T. aims to reduce the incidence of blindness in NJ.  The NJ Department of Human Service’s website states that national researchers say that “50% of all cases of blindness or severe vision loss could have been prevented by early detection of disorders and the appropriate follow-up care.”

The NJ Department of Human Services, Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) believes that every resident of NJ has the right of access to services that will prevent or limit the impact of vision loss. For over 35 years, CBVI has provided services in the areas of eye health and eye safety by offering free vision screenings for adults and children with a concerted effort to provide these services to historically underserved sectors of the population (low income, elderly, minorities, people with Diabetes, and individuals with special needs).

CBVI’s Project B.E.S.T.  works to save sight and restore vision whenever it is medically possible. Services include: mobile eye examination unit; vision screening for preschool and school-age children; monthly or semi-monthly eye screenings at more than 28 fixed sites all over the state; on-site screening at institutions and in communities; and special diabetic detection and awareness programs.

Other CBVI services include:

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services for individuals to become employable and obtain employment;
  • Education Services for students to help them succeed in their local public school program;
  • Rehabilitation Teaching for individuals to manage their household and perform task of daily living with impaired vision;
  • Orientation and Mobility Instruction to assist individuals in traveling independently;
  • Referral to community resources for housing, financial assistance, and other supportive services;
  • Eye Health Services and related Diabetic Self-Care instruction for insulin injections, etc.; and
  • Referrals to services that can help individuals adjust socially and emotionally to vision loss.

Researchers have found that over 33% of people with Diabetes don’t know that they have it. Through eye screening the screener may pick up clues for detection of this potentially life-threatening disease. By dilating the pupil, the screener can see inside the eye using an ophthalmoscope, which lights and magnifies the blood vessels in the eyes. Changes to these blood vessels can signify various stages of diabetic retinopathy. Left untreated, it can cause blindness.

Project B.E.S.T. also provides follow-up services to individuals who need further eye evaluations or eye care services, and who have no health insurance, and do not qualify for other state programs.

For more info, call 862-754-5406 or email Elizabeth.DeShields@dhs.state.nj.us