August 28, 2015

Kids with “learning trouble” may actually have vision problem

Dr. Triebel works with a vision therapy patient

Dr. Triebel works with a vision therapy patient

As tens of thousands of Nebraska children head back to school, a study finds one in four of them has a vision problem.

Optometrist Dr. Beth Triebel says kids may not be up-front about having a problem with their sight so parents need to be watchful for warning signs.

“A lot of times you’ll notice the kids squinting to see things,” Dr. Triebel says. “If they’re reading, they may turn their head funny, close an eye or rub their eyes a lot after reading. They may get very close to the reading material or move it really far away.”

Triebel says simple vision tests can be performed on children as young as infants which can spot potential problems very early.

“There’s a free program called InfantSEE that you can get your child in to get that very basic, preliminary exam to look for any red flags that could be a problem later,” Triebel says. “After that, I typically recommend an exam before kindergarten, between ages 3 and 5, and then after that, every couple of years is a good idea.”

Since 80% of all learning is visual, she says good vision is important in the classroom. A study finds 60% of students who are identified as “problem learners” have undetected vision problems.

“There could be some underlying vision problems that could either be the cause of it or certainly add to that type of behavior,” Triebel says. “It’s very important that if your child is having trouble in school or having trouble learning, that you get a comprehensive eye exam and make sure everything is working right.”

Triebel offers a few suggestions for things parents can do to protect their child’s vision, including:

  • provide a well-lit, comfortable area for reading and homework
  • a child watching TV should sit 6 to 8 feet away from the television set
  • children should take frequent breaks to rest their eyes while reading, working on a computer or playing video games
  • wear appropriate eye protection in activities where there is a risk of eye injury
  • time away from school should allow for creative play time to help his or her vision develop properly


Reptile lab in Lincoln to get a new resident via Iowa

GatorA northwest Iowa boy’s pet alligator will soon make a trip across the Missouri River to Nebraska — secured in a cage.

The two-and-a-half foot long alligator known as Allie was purchased by the unidentified Sioux City 16-year-old from a website.

He says he didn’t know it was illegal to keep such a critter as a pet in Iowa.

He put Allie up for sale, online, asking $400 for the gator, his 75-gallon aquarium, heat lamps and a water heater.

That’s when the Sioux City Animal Adoption and Rescue Center took notice.

The center seized the alligator which will eventually go to the reptile lab at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The boy could have been fined $750, but since he cooperated fully, won’t be charged.


No arrests made after pipe bomb found in Lincoln park

Crime Scene TapeOfficials are investigating who left a plastic pipe bomb at Standing Bear Park in south Lincoln Monday night.  

Detectives say children found the object around 6:00 PM in the middle of a baseball field.  

A bomb squad was called in who determined the six-inch device was made of PVC and contained gun powder.  

Officials later destroyed the bomb.  No other information has been released.


Ag officials prep for new outbreaks of bird flu this fall

ChickenWhile the heat of summer should prevent any more cases of avian influenza, state and federal officials are looking ahead to the possibility of new outbreaks in Nebraska when the wild waterfowl start their next migration this fall.

At this point, USDA veterinarian Dr. Jack Shere says there’s no way to predict the extent of another hit from bird flu, though they’re prepping for the worst-case.

“If we use the occurrences of what we’ve seen in Asia and in eastern Europe and part of western Europe and the outbreaks that they have seen, we know that this can recur,” Shere says. “So, we are preparing for that.”

Shere, who works for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says when many millions of wild ducks and geese begin migrating in a few months, those birds may again bring the influenza with them. “We’ve talked about what are the best procedures to use in the event of another outbreak,” Shere says. “What’s the fastest way to deal with this disease and what things do we need to be looking at for preparation should this occur again?”

Poultry facilities will need to be even more vigilant to maintain strict biosecurity.

Two major poultry operations in northeast Nebraska’s Dixon County were hit by outbreaks of bird flu this year. More than three-and-a-half million chickens died or were destroyed, along with another one-and-a-half million pullets.

Right next door, Iowa was the worst-hit state by bird flu, with more than 70 outbreaks in 18 counties that resulted in the loss of more than 34-million birds.

Shere says the severity of the next wave is impossible to predict.

“We may see a large number of outbreaks or we may see a smattering, and then we have to worry about spring 2016. That’s the next time the virus will be moving north,” Shere says.

Nebraska’s poultry industry is worth an estimated $1.1-billion dollars a year.


Charity launches $1M scholarship program for Nebraska students

Aksarben FoundationA statewide scholarship program is being rolled out by the community and business leaders who make up the AKSARBEN Foundation.

The group’s president Jon Burt says the goal is to offer a seamless transition from high school to career training and into a meaningful career.

“We have a real simple mission of giving back time, talent and treasure in order to move forward heartland prosperity,” Burt says. “This year and in the coming years, we will be granting upwards of one-million dollars in college scholarships specifically to students of need throughout the state.”

The program is called Career Connectors.

“The pilot for that program is going to be in Douglas and Sarpy counties and it begins this year,” Burt says. “It’s specifically to try to fill the needs of the medium and high-skilled job market of which, I think every community within our region is in significant need of folks who have those high-skill abilities and can fill those positions.”

Learn more about the scholarship program at the non-profit foundation’s website: If you’re struggling to spell “Aksarben,” it’s “Nebraska” backwards.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney