“Eighty percent of learning depends upon good vision,” says Dr. Sarah Marossy.
“Since Idaho does not have a public school vision screening minimum requirement, children can pass a school eye test and still have serious undetected vision problems.”
Marossy is on a mission to educate parents, school nurses and educators about good eye and vision health.
Recently named Idaho’s “Optometrist of the Year,” by the Idaho Optometric Physician’s Association, Marossy was nominated and selected by her peers. She is the youngest and the only female to receive the award for distinguished professional and community service.
Optometrists in Idaho are primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. They can prescribe and provide eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, prescribe and administer medications, and perform minor surgical procedures.
According to an American Optometric Association survey, 87 percent of survey respondents were unaware vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers and one in four school age children.
If vision problems are not detected and treated early, they can lead to permanent vision loss and learning difficulties which makes it much harder for children to succeed in school and life. Headaches and ocular fatigue are common symptoms if the eyes are not functioning correctly.
Determined to help as many children as possible receive comprehension vision screenings, Marossy wrote and successfully received a National Eye Institute grant for the Idaho Children’s Vision Coalition, which she founded in 2007.
The coalition is dedicated to saving children’s vision through educational resources, preventative care initiatives, and collaboration with various statewide organizations and public schools. Marossy, as well as other area optometrists, voluntarily take turns visiting nurses in public and private schools to help with vision education, screenings and to provide necessary supplies.
Thanks to Marossy, Head Start of Idaho was the recipient of a 2008 National Eye Institute grant for $10,000 to be used for educational purposes. She has reapplied for another $10,000 NEI grant this year, and if she receives the funds, she plans to develop a step-by-step online training video series for the comprehensive vision screening assessment of the 3- to 5-year-old population.
Marossy serves on the local Head Start advisory council. Head Start is a national school readiness program that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.
Marossy also volunteers for InfantSEE, whose spokesman is former President Jimmy Carter. InfantSEE member optometrists provide comprehensive infant eye assessment within the first six to 12 months of life as a no-cost public health service.
“In five years, I have seen 300 to 400 infants for InfantSEE, many of them high-risk,” says Marossy.
When she is not writing grants and running her practice, Post Falls Optometric Physicians, P.S., she represents the five northern counties on the board of directors for the Idaho Optometric Physicians Association. She is a volunteer advocate/ombudsman who researches and finds solutions to medical eye insurance concerns on behalf of both optometrists and patients alike.
She also volunteers for specific projects at the Coeur d’Alene Women’s Center, lectures and is a contributing writer to the American Optometric Association.
Marossy obtained her Bachelor of Science and Doctorate Degree from Indiana University. She served an ophthalmologic internship at Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, where her main clinical emphasis was on ocular eye disease and trauma.
Marossy purchased Dr. Elwin Schutt’s Post Falls optometry practice in 2008. Schutt retired last year after 38 years, but still frequents the clinic and provides eye care services to many of his longtime patients.
To accommodate growth, Marossy co-built a new landmark building, Riverview Medical Plaza across from the new Post Falls City Hall on Spokane and Fourth streets. She will move her practice there March 2 and be joined by Dr. Cher Jacobsen and Dr. Larry Gibbon, Post Falls primary care physicians.
For now, Marossy continues a crusade to ensure that eye and vision care become an integral part of infant and child wellness care.
“A child’s eyes are the windows to the world around them,” says Marossy. “Taking care of vision is a critical part of helping children grow and develop to the best of their abilities.”