Ocean Beach optometrist provides free exams, glasses for OB Elementary students
by SCOTT HOPKINS
Published - 02/12/20 - 10:00 AM | 2744 views | 2 2 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Eli Ben-Moshe helps an Ocean Beach Elementary School student select a frame. SCOTT HOPKINS / PENINSULA BEACON
Dr. Eli Ben-Moshe helps an Ocean Beach Elementary School student select a frame. SCOTT HOPKINS / PENINSULA BEACON
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Visual health is critical to success for students of all ages in today's classrooms and Dr. Eli Ben-Moshe is determined that no needy students at Ocean Beach Elementary School will be hampered by vision issues.

Ben-Moshe's Newport Avenue Optometry has been a community fixture for 50 years and serves hundreds of area residents. But, as a father himself, he has a special place in his heart for children.

For more than a decade, Ben-Moshe has been working with staff members at the school, located closeby across Sunset Cliffs Boulevard from his office, giving the gift of excellent vision to children who would otherwise struggle in classrooms.

Children who see blurry images are often frustrated and fall behind their classmates, a combination that often manifests itself in behavioral issues that require intervention from teachers and counselors. Parents may admonish their youngsters, not understanding what difficulties are caused by their child's uncorrected vision.

"We're trying to help the kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks," Ben-Moshe said between patient exams on a recent afternoon. "They are from families who don't have vision insurance or a program that furnishes glasses for their kids and couldn't otherwise afford them."

Ocean Beach Elementary now has an enrollment of 420 children in grades K-4 and a state pre-school with 25 more. Each is screened every other year for vision issues by the school's part-time nurse and health technician. Referrals from classroom teachers are also a major factor in identifying those whose vision is affecting their classroom success.

When students are referred, school staff member Anna Stepanof contacts Amy Bobbish, office manager at Newport Avenue Optometry. At an agreed-upon time, Stepanof escorts the student across the street for their exam. Parents occasionally attend.

Ben-Moshe and his staff give the child a complete eye exam to detect all vision issues including eye health and development. The child is then shown a display of children's frames. Once they have made their selection, the glasses can often be made within minutes and the student is able to walk back to school wearing their new glasses.

Ben-Moshe has seen the differences his work makes.

"One boy put his glasses on and then looked around for several seconds," he recalls with a chuckle. "Then he turned to his mother and said, 'I can see!'" 

"You can't forget the kids' smiles," Ben-Moshe says. "And we get even more gratification than they do."

Parents have returned to thank Ben-Moshe, saying their children now read for fun when they used to give up after several minutes due to headaches.

Ocean Beach Elementary Principal Marco Drapeau knows how valuable Ben-Moshe's services are to his students.

"What the good doctor has done is very much appreciated," Drapeau said. "It's really, really made a huge difference for a good number of our students. We still have a number of families the district calls 'social-economically disadvantaged' that may not have access to insurance or certain resources and these kids could be suffering far longer than they have to."

Teachers have observed that behavior issues are reduced and student self-concept increases when students are suddenly able to clearly see their classroom environment. 

"We've seen the difference it makes when a kid who needs glasses gets them," Drapeau noted. "It's like a night and day difference, where a student that may have been struggling for years suddenly realizes 'Oh my gosh, I can learn to read and write and take science notes and they just light up."

These newly remedied students have helped raise the school's test scores above other schools with a similar population.

Ben-Moshe's contributions have certainly been a factor in the school's recognition as a California Distinguished School academically and receiving an Exemplary Arts Education Award.

Thanks to Ben-Moshe, Drapeau, his staff and students truly have a clear vision of success.

 

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