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Article of Interest - Vision

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Vision Service Plan’s Sight for Students

Program Targets Children with Undetected Eye Problems.

America's Promise Bulletin #51 3, March 2005

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According to the Eye Care Council, 20 percent of children entering kindergarten have undetected vision conditions that could hinder their ability to read and learn.  By age 10, this percentage increases by 25 percent and more than 30 percent by age 15.  In an effort to reverse these startling numbers, Vision Service Plan (VSP) will attempt to help more than 50,000 kids across the nation receive quality eye care this year through their Sight for Students program.  Started in 1997, the program offers free eye exams and eyewear to low-income children from kindergarten through high school. 


To date, Sight for Students has provided more than 290,000 low-income/uninsured children with these free eye care services, a contribution to America’s youth worth over $54 million.  The Sight for Students program enables children to get the most out of educational and sports participation by simply making sure they have their basic health needs met,” said Roger Valine, President and CEO of VSP.  “Children deserve every opportunity to succeed, and giving the gift of good vision is a way we can help them achieve their potential.” 


Here’s how it works:  Sight for Students gift certificates are delivered through a network of community partners who work directly with children.  VSP relies on these partners to identify children with potential vision problems and determine if a child meets the eligibility requirements of the program. 


The community partners participating in Sight for Students include: YMCA of the USA, Boys & Girls Club of America, Head Start, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of Community Health Centers and the American Optometric Association.  Several other regional partners also participate including: Prevent Blindness America, state optometric associations, the National Council of LaRaza and Communities in Schools.


To help instruct children about their eyes and proper eye care, VSP has also created an interactive classroom toolkit as part of the Sight for Students program. Designed in cooperation with Explorit Science Center and the National Eye Institute, the tool kit informs teachers about the signs and symptoms of vision problems.  Armed with this information, the teachers can help parents detect students who struggle in the classroom due to vision problems.  “One of the best features about it is that it provides teachers with fun, interactive activities that enable the children to understand the importance of vision and good health,” said Pam Lapinski, community relations manager for VSP.


After distributing the tool kit, teachers were more aware of their student’s vision.  Sometimes teachers even identified kids with vision problems from the listed signs and symptoms in the tool kit; the children were then sent to the school nurse and eventually referred to a doctor.


To find out more about VSP’s Sight for Students Program, or to obtain assistance in finding a community partner, please call 1-888-290-4964 or visit online at 


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