“iSee with Vision To Learn” Provides K-12 Students with Free Vision Screenings, Eye Exams and Glasses
Ohio’s “Pay for Success” Funding Covers Costs of Program
NEW LEXINGTON, OHIO – State Treasurer Robert Sprague joined Vision To Learn today at New Lexington High School to celebrate the success of Vision To Learn’s efforts in Ohio. More than 25,000 children have been provided with vision screenings and almost 4,000 with glasses, al at no cost to the child or their family . As part of the “iSee with Vision To Learn” program, vision services at this school and over 150 others across Southeastern Ohio will be paid for by the ResultsOHIO pay for success program. As Vision To Learn approaches the end of Year 2 of a three-year program, Treasurer Sprague helped high school students try on their new glasses, and congratulated the program on its success helping K-12 kids across the region.
“Through ResultsOHIO, we have a unique and more accountable way to foster innovative solutions aimed at tackling some of the biggest challenges facing Ohio,” said Treasurer Sprague. “It’s been exciting to observe a pay for success approach in action and to watch as the iSee project provides critical services to an underserved region of our state.”
“iSee with Vision to Learn,” a collaboration between Vision To Learn, the Ohio Optometric Association, and the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, launched in Southeastern Ohio in 2021, and since then has provided more than 25,000 students with vision screenings, 4,600 with eye exams and 3,700 with glasses, at over 100 schools and community organizations. Vision To Learn was the first recipient of funding from Ohio’s pay for success program “ResultsOHIO,” which supports public benefit projects that meet strict performance metrics. In its first year, iSee with Vision To Learn surpassed all metrics for students provided eye exams and glasses. Tens of thousands more kids will be helped across the state in the years to come, at no cost to children and their families.
“ResultsOHIO makes sense – kids need glasses and the provider only gets paid when the kids get them,” said Austin Beutner, Vision To Learn founder. “Every child, every school, everywhere in the country should have the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life.”
Challenges accessing vision care are particularly widespread in Appalachian Ohio, with serious health and educational consequences for school children in this region of the state. The Ohio Department of Health’s 2018-19 Vision Screening Report showed over 90% of students do not receive follow-up exams in most rural counties. The Noble County/Guernsey County 2017 Community Health Assessment quantified the shortage of eye care professionals in these rural counties. Whereas Ohio has, on average, one optometrist for every 6,005 residents, Guernsey County has one optometrist for every 13,197 residents. For Noble County, the ratio is one to 14,363.
“Vision to Learn helps provide a solution to the problem by bringing eye care to where kids are almost every day, their local public school. We’re delighted to work with them to make sure children in low income communities get the help they need and get them connected with a local eye doctor to establish access to a lifetime of vision care,” said Keith Kerns, Ohio Optometric Association Executive Director.
ResultsOHIO provides improved access to vision care just as further evidence of Vision To Learn’s impact has been made public. The data comes from a groundbreaking study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 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 most rigorous study in the U.S. to measure the impact of providing eyeglasses to students at school. Thousands of children from more than 100 schools in Baltimore participated in the study. Guess what? The children who received glasses did 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, are those who are often the hardest to help—students in the bottom quarter of their class academically and students with learning differences and disabilities.
Here’s how it works: Vision To Learn teams with classroom educators and school nurses to make sure every child receives a vision screening. And for children who don’t pass the screening, Vision To Learn’s mobile clinics, staffed with trained eye care professionals near where they live, visit schools to provide eye exams and glasses – all free of charge to the child and their family.
The problem is not a new one. According to the American Optometric Association, about one in four children, whether from a family with means or a family struggling to get by, will naturally need glasses. Children who need glasses and don’t have them are more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavioral issues in kindergarten, considered “slow” learners by 5th grade and drop out of high school. Unfortunately, in low-income communities, most children who need glasses don’t have them due to financial constraints, language barriers, or the simple fact there are no eye care professionals in their county. iSee with Vision To Learn solves the problem by bringing the glasses to the kids where they are almost every day—their local neighborhood school.
At New Lexington High School 492 students were provided with vision screenings, 254 were provided with eye exams, and 251 with glasses.
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 2,247,936 children with eye care and more than 450,000 with glasses – all at no cost to the child or their family. For more information on Vision To Learn, please visit www.visiontolearn.org.