Health
4:36 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

This Vision Clinic on Wheels Helps Central Texas Kids See Better

The future is a little clearer for Central Texas students who need glasses.

Today, the Kids Vision for Life mobile vision clinic was unveiled at Perez Elementary School, an Austin ISD school that serves the Dove Springs neighborhood hit by devastating floods last October.

The mobile clinic provides students free vision exams and prescription glasses, custom cut while they wait.  Tracy Lunoff, AISD’s assistant director of health, says approximately 5,500 students in the district don’t pass their school eye exams and require further screening by an optometrist. She says the mobile clinic is ideal because it brings optometrists to high-need area schools – meaning students miss less class time and parents miss less work. 

The Kids Vision for Life mobile clinic is a collaborative effort between Austin Community Foundation, the Essilor Vision Foundation, and the Seton Healthcare Family. Essilor runs similar programs in Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth. Dr. Melinda Rainey, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Dell Children’s Hospital, will provide services for students with vision needs that require more than glasses.

The actual clinic is a 40-foot truck that used to house a mobile pediatric clinic run by Seton. The vehicle is now completely repurposed with two exam areas, equipment to edge and finish prescription glasses, and an “eyeglass boutique" of frames.

“Children who can’t see struggle to do well in school and easily fall behind,” says MariBen Ramsey, vice president and philanthropy officer of the Austin Community Foundation. The foundation estimates that one in four students who need glasses go without vision correction – a move that has detrimental effects on students’ academic and everyday lives.

Lunoff says she's seen the impact of the clinic already. When a young girl was fitted with a pair of new glasses, she was amazed to see that “trees have leaves.”

“[The clinic] is here to help children reach their full academic potential, and that children see leaves,” said Lunoff.

The Kids Vision for Life mobile clinic will serve Title 1 schools throughout Central Texas, and will be at Feria Para Aprender, a Spanish language education fair in Austin, this Saturday Feb. 22.