A donation made by a London-born National Hockey League player will give children a chance at clear sight and a bright future.
Former London Knight Brandon Prust announced a $100,000 donation in support of the Ivey Special Eye Examination Services (iSee) Vision Screening Research Program at St. Joseph’s Health Care London.
Prust was on hand at the Stoney Creek Community Centre, YMCA and Library to make the announcement on Monday, and to kick-off a free screening service that would focus on identifying eye conditions in children between the ages of 18 months to 4-years-old who may have vision issues.
Prust made the donation on behalf of the Brandon Prust Foundation, the charity he founded in 2014.
“With my foundation we have always been gearing towards children and always do programs to help kids with pain and treatments,” said Prust on Monday after the announcement. “We approached St. Joe’s and asked if they were doing anything they needed help with and they brought this program to our attention and we thought it was the perfect fit for what we do.”
The program aims to use photo screening as a tool to identify eye conditions, with a focus on amblyopia or “lazy eye.”
The screening takes seconds and is as easy as taking a picture of the child’s eye. The camera is able to capture any irregularities in the eye that aren’t always visible to parents or doctors without the use of the technology.
“You wouldn’t think lazy eye is a big issue because it’s correctable, but if it’s missed and not treated, children can face bullying at school, fewer employment opportunities and other challenges,” said Michelle Campbell, president and chief executive of St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation.
She said the group is embarking on a research project that is seeking to screen about 5,000 children in the London region to treat the youth that need it, but will also collect data about the prevalence of lazy eye.
Campbell said the donation is enormous and will help the research group secure the technology and staff they’d require to successfully roll-out the project.
Campbell said iSee has already screened 1,000 London-youths and has found 60 that would develop lazy eye — they are now being sent into early care to deal with the issue.
Prust said the majority of his foundation’s work goes towards reactive measures, like donations to Kids Kicking Cancer, but the iSee research project is pro-active, as it will help prevent kids from having to deal with pain or negativity down the road, which was a big reason behind the donation.
“The donation is lovely and we are really humbled by it. . .(Brandon) has a real focus on making kids in our community live happier and healthier lives,” said Campbell. “(With the donation) Brandon’s foundation is doing two things, providing a service that would largely be given, but also collecting data that will help us determine the next steps in dealing with the issue.”
The Brandon Prust Foundation will host its third annual Prusty4Kids charity golf tournament at Redtail Golf Course on July 25. The money raised from the day will help fund the Kids Kicking Cancer Canada program at hospitals throughout the city.