Krystal Lopez, 7, could see only fuzzy faces and blurry images since her glasses went missing this summer.
On Wednesday, at a mobile vision clinic at Manuel Jara Elementary School, the first-grader underwent an eye exam and fitting and had a brand-new pair of Nine West glasses with teal frames in less than an hour. “Sometimes, I can’t really see far without glasses,” Krystal said. “And I got them in my favorite color, like the ocean.”
She was among the first of an estimated 2,000 Fort Worth students who will receive free glasses this year through Kids Vision for Life — Tarrant County, sponsored largely by the charitable divisions of Alcon and Essilor Vision, an eye-care and lens-manufacturing company.
The program began in Dallas in 2008 and moved to Everman and Fort Worth last year. Officials announced this week that it will be expanded to 21 Fort Worth elementary schools this year and to other Tarrant County districts next year, including Arlington.
Nearly 20 percent of Fort Worth elementary students need glasses, officials say. Participating schools were selected based on the number of students who failed vision tests but lacked glasses, said Michael Steinert, executive director of student support services for the Fort Worth district.
About Kids Vision for Life
Kids Vision for Life is about connecting the dots to address an unrecognized national crisis: the number of U.S. school children who have unaddressed vision problems. According to experts, one in four children has a vision problem and, of those, 90% do not wear glasses. Children who cannot see well have difficulties reading and learning resulting in consequences for the child, society, and the economy.
Children who cannot see the white board during class soon disengage from learning and are more likely to drop out of school and get into trouble. Studies indicate as many as three out of four juvenile offenders have undetected or uncorrected vision problems. Likewise, ninety percent of illiterate adults have vision problems as well. One cannot help but wonder how the lives of individuals in these circumstances might have changed had they received vision care when they were young children?
Kids Vision for Life brings together partners to bring attention to the issue and actively address it.
Their first pilot program launched in Dallas in 2008 with the help of Dallas Independent School District and the Lions Sight and Tissue Foundation and has expanded in the 2009–2010 school year.
- Focuses on vision problems of children from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds by providing free eye exams and glasses
- A mobile eye clinic visits select elementary schools and eye doctors conduct free eye exams on-site for children who meet eligibility criteria
- Program served 24 elementary schools during the 2008-2009 school year
- The program expanded to serve more than 50 elementary schools in 2009–2010 school year
Their vision is to expand Kids Vision for Life to Fort Worth and the DFW area then replicate the program as funding allows throughout the country.
by Eva-Marie Ayala