JOHNSTON, IA (August 3, 2023) – Vision To Learn, a national nonprofit which provides children in low-income communities with vision screenings, eye exams and glasses – at no cost to children or their families – will expand its Iowa operations with a $1.1 million funding commitment from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and DeltaVision. The funding will support the purchase of an additional mobile clinic and three years of operational expenses.
“One in four school-aged children has a vision problem that if not detected or treated early could impact not only a child’s learning, but their overall health and wellness,” said Suzanne Heckenlaible, executive director of Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. “As Delta Dental has expanded into vision benefits with DeltaVision, we have also expanded our Foundation’s mission to include vision education and access. We are proud to support Vision To Learn and their work to expand vision care services and glasses for children across Iowa.”
“More than 3 million children across the country go to school every day without the glasses they need. When a child comes to school we make sure they’re provided with food, along with the books and school supplies they need. Why not glasses?” said Austin Beutner, Founder of Vision To Learn. “Every child in every school, everywhere in the country, should have the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life.”
Access to vision care services can be especially challenging for children in low-income communities. Vision To Learn’s mobile clinics provide help to children at their local, neighborhood schools.
“We are grateful for the support Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and DeltaVision have shown for our work to expand access to vision care for students in need,” said Corrine Kroger, Iowa regional director for Vision To Learn. “With a second mobile clinic, we’ll be able to provide an additional 3,000 children with eye exams and 2,000 with glasses each year.”
Since its Iowa launch in 2016, Vision To Learn has provided more than 15,000 children with eye exams and 12,000 with glasses.
Vision issues often go unaddressed in school-age children. In Iowa, Vision To Learn estimates about 25,000 children need eye exams and 20,000 glasses.
Experts estimate three to four million children across the country go to school every day unable to see the board or pages of a textbook clearly. About one in four children will naturally need glasses. Children who need glasses and don’t have them are more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavioral issues in kindergarten, be labeled “slow” learners by 5th grade, and to drop out of high school. Unfortunately, in low-income urban and rural communities, most children who need glasses don’t have them due to financial constraints, language barriers, unresponsive health bureaucracies or the simple fact there are no eye care professionals in their neighborhood.
The impact of providing glasses to children at schools is shown in a study published in The Journal for the American Medical Association Ophthalmology by researchers from the Center for Research and Reform in Education and the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
The researchers conducted the largest and most rigorous study in the U.S. about the connection between glasses and academic achievement by comparing students’ standardized test scores before and after receiving glasses from Vision To Learn. Thousands of children from more than 100 schools in Baltimore participated in the study. The children who received glasses did much better in school and the impacts were greater than more costly measures such as lengthening the school day, providing computers, or creating charter schools. The children who showed the biggest gains, the equivalent of an additional four to six months of learning, were those who are often the hardest to help—students in the bottom quarter of their class academically and students with learning differences and disabilities.
Over the last decade, nonprofit charity Vision To Learn has worked to address the “glasses gap” by providing vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to kids where they are most days – at their neighborhood school. With a fleet of mobile vision clinics staffed with trained and licensed eye care professionals, Vision To Learn has helped ensure 2.5 million students across the country received vision screenings and provided more than 390,000 with glasses, all at no cost to the child or their family.
The new Vision To Learn mobile clinic is expected to begin serving Iowa students later this fall.
About Delta Dental of Iowa
Delta Dental of Iowa, a not-for-profit health and wellness company, provides dental and vision benefits to more than 1.6 million Iowans. Locally focused and nationally networked, Delta Dental of Iowa and its Foundation invest in robust community systems and partnerships. These efforts empower and engage all Iowans to have optimal oral, vision, and overall health. Since 2002, Delta Dental has invested more than $62 million to improve the oral and overall health of Iowans.
Delta Dental of Iowa is a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association, the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. The Delta Dental member companies provide dental benefits to more than 85 million Americans in more than 157,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more information, visit the website at www.deltadentalia.com.
About Vision To Learn
Vision To Learn, a non-profit charity, was founded in 2012 by Austin Beutner and the Beutner Family Foundation. The program has helped children in over 750 low-income communities in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Vision To Learn serves the needs of the hardest-to-reach children; about 90% of kids served by Vision To Learn live in poverty and about 85% are Black and Latino. Vision To Learn has provided 2,586,131 children with eye care and more than 390,000 with glasses – all at no cost to children or their families. For more information on Vision To Learn, please visit www.visiontolearn.org. # # #