Vision To Learn, founded by Austin Beutner, was created to solve this issue. It recently launched efforts to serve children in the Jackson Public School District with plans to serve the school-age population throughout Mississippi in the months and years to come. The nonprofit organization operates mobile vision clinics that serve young people at schools and community organizations and provides eye exams and glasses, free of charge. Students choose their glasses from a wide selection of colors, sizes, and styles. Every student who needs glasses gets them.
The benefits of good vision are profound. Research shows that after receiving glasses from Vision To Learn, students’ math and reading grades increase, their classroom behavior improves, and they are better able to focus on class discussion and assignments. The program helps not only the students receiving glasses but the entire school as it is easier for teachers to teach and for the whole class to learn.
Uncorrected vision issues can make schoolwork difficult, causing pupils to fall behind in reading and math, and can affect classroom behavior. A kindergartener with vision issues is often misdiagnosed as a behavior problem. By 4th grade this same child is mislabeled a slow learner or considered a “problem child,” falls behind, and receives nothing but negative feedback. By 8th grade, they drop out to look for reward on the street. Equally troubling are several studies showing over 60 percent of youth in juvenile detention centers have uncorrected vision issues.