Vision Health Initiative Will Provide Free Vision Screenings, Eye Exams and New, Prescription Glasses to Students in Appalachian Ohio Schools
Students at Cambridge Primary School were delighted to try on and see clearly with their brand new glasses today. The glasses were provided through a unique collaboration between the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, Ohio Optometric Foundation and nonprofit provider Vision To Learn, which together will use a mobile vision clinic to provide school-site vision care to thousands of students in Appalachian Ohio in the years to come.
An estimated 45,000 children in Southeastern Ohio go to school every day without the glasses they need to see the board, read a book, or participate in class. Through this collaboration, thousands of students attending Title I schools in districts throughout the region will be provided a vision screening, eye exam, and – if needed – a pair of glasses, all free of charge.
“We’re thrilled to see children in Cambridge receive glasses today,” said Cara Dingus Brook, President and CEO of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. “Our partnership with Vision To Learn and the Ohio Optometric Foundation is bringing much needed vision exams directly to students and families, and we could not be more grateful.”
“In Ohio, school vision screenings are mandatory. However, over 77% of children who fail one of those school vision screenings never end up receiving the recommended comprehensive eye exam and glasses. It seems obvious that healthy eyes and clear vision are essential to learning and succeeding in school, but that simple connection is often overlooked. In Ohio, we have the ‘third-grade reading guarantee,’ but unfortunately we do not offer students a guarantee of clear vision to help them learn to read. We believe this partnership will greatly contribute to making that vision a reality,” said Ohio Optometric Foundation President Dr. Shane Foster.
“Vision To Learn is thrilled to be bringing service to students in Ohio,” said Vision To Learn President Ann Hollister. “By providing free eye exams at school, Vision To Learn helps students get the glasses they need to succeed.”
Cambridge Primary School is the first school in the Appalachian region to be served by this effort. In late April, 20 students were provided with eye exams; 14 were prescribed glasses and will receive their glasses at today’s event.
Research by faculty from the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA about students who received glasses from Vision To Learn showed students’ grades improved and they became more engaged in the classroom. Students with untreated vision problems often struggle at school, and are less likely to achieve reading proficiency by third grade, putting them at greater risk of dropping out. In addition, a 3-year controlled study by Johns Hopkins University Wilmer Eye Institute is expected to be published in summer 2021.
The initiative is supported with generous funding from the Ohio Optometric Foundation, Deerbrook Charitable Trust, several anonymous donors, and in-kind support from the Essilor Vision Foundation. Additionally, the program has been deemed by the Ohio State Treasurer as “Pay for Success Ready;” as a result, Ohio’s state legislature is considering providing funding to support the program in this year’s state budget.
About Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is a regional community foundation serving the 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio. A 501(c)(3) public charity, the Foundation creates opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s citizens and communities by inspiring and supporting philanthropy. For more information about FAO, visit www.AppalachianOhio.org.
About Ohio Optometric Foundation
OOF is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable arm of the Ohio Optometric Association (OOA). OOF is committed to improving the vision and eye health of children and other Ohioans in visual need by providing access to necessary eye care. For over a decade, OOF has operated the In-School Eye Exam (iSee) program in areas of need throughout Ohio, with volunteer optometrist members of the OOA. To date, the iSee program has provided 1,581 exams and has prescribed 1,353 pairs of prescription glasses.
About Vision To Learn
Vision To Learn, a non-profit charity, started with one van in Los Angeles in 2012, has helped kids in underserved communities at over 12,000 schools and community organizations in 14 states. 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 kids of color. Since its inception, Vision To Learn has helped provide vision screenings to over 1,500,000 kids, provided over 290,000 kids with eye exams and over 230,000 with glasses, all free of charge to students and their families.