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Empowering Students With The Gift Of Sight


By Courtney Collins, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Students in Tarrant County who have been squinting at the blackboard all year were given the gift of sight today. KERA's Courtney Collins explains.

Most sixth grade girls don't beam over a pair of prescription glasses, but Karen says her chic, Juicy Couture frames are as stylish as any accessory.

Karen: "I picked out some glasses that are purple on the outside and green on the inside."

Her classmate Adam feels the same way about his black and red Armani Exchange specs.

Adam: "I want to make one that's stylish because I don't want to be embarrassed picking round glasses or something like that."

Both Adam and Karen are students at Anderson Elementary in the Arlington Independent School District. Anderson is one of many low income schools that qualify for an initiative called Kids Vision for Life. The program brings an optometrist to campus to examine children who have failed their school vision screening.

After getting checked out, kids are allowed to choose from more than 100 different frames and their glasses are fitted with prescription lenses on the spot.

This program is backed by the Alcon Foundation and Essilor Vision.

Mike Sawyer: "A lot of the children go undiagnosed for several years."

That was Mike Sawyer, a spokesperson for the program. Sawyer says while Medicaid does cover eye exams and glasses, Medicaid doesn't give children a lot of choice about the frames they wear. He says Kids Vision for Life will replace broken glasses anytime they need replacing, but you have to wait until a year has elapsed under Medicaid. Sawyer says access to doctors is also an issue.

Sawyer: "Parents are working so hard these days often holding two jobs it's difficult for them to get in and see an optometrist."

But bringing the doctor to the school solves that. About 30 kids at Anderson qualify for the program, but Sawyer says Kids Vision for Life is in several dozen schools throughout Tarrant County.

And it's obvious students on the receiving end of this effort already see things differently.

Karen: "What does the world look like? It looks bigger now!"