(Press Release) Eighty percent of learning is visual, yet one in four students in the United States has an undiagnosed vision problem significant enough to impair their academic performance. This is why Verizon is partnering with vision care and education leaders to launch the Mobile Vision Care Program, designed to impact academic achievement by providing free vision screenings and care to students.
The program and affiliated research study is a partnership between Verizon, OneSight, a nonprofit providing access to vision care and glasses in underserved communities, Smart Vision Labs, a NYC-based health tech startup building the future of vision care, and the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry. It launches this week at the OneSight Vision Care Clinic in Omaha, NE, where 600-plus Omaha Public School students will receive free vision screenings, comprehensive eye exams and glasses.
Over the next two years, these partners will work together with selected school districts nationwide to:
- Evaluate the impact of mobile technology (specifically the SVOne autorefractor by Smart Vision Labs) on improving the accuracy and efficiency of vision screenings performed by school staff.
- Measure student achievement gained by providing quality vision care (a comprehensive eye exam and glasses if needed) to students with failed vision screenings during OneSight Vision Clinics held at schools.
SUNY College of Optometry will serve as the research partner evaluating the program’s impact based on comprehensive data collected during the study.
“We became aware of the staggering need for student vision care through our extensive work with Verizon Innovative Learning Schools,” says Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of corporate social responsibility at Verizon. “Millions of students simply can’t see clearly to learn in school and reach their full potential. We are committed to working with vision care and school leaders to help solve this preventable health crisis affecting the education of our children – especially those most vulnerable in low-income, medically underserved districts.”
A growing number of studies by the American Optometric Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prevent Blindness and others confirm the scope of the problem:
- Eighty percent of learning is visual, yet one in four students in the United States has an undiagnosed vision problem significant enough to impair their academic performance.
- Even when vision problems are identified during screenings conducted at schools, 67 percent of students do not receive the necessary follow-up eye exam or glasses.
- As a result, as many as 90 percent of students who may need glasses do not have them. This is an even greater issue for children from poor urban areas, many of whom are ethnic minorities and experience more than twice the normal rate of vision problems.
- The economic costs of children’s vision disorders are significant, amounting to $10 billion yearly in the United States.
OneSight will train school nurses and health coordinators, as part of the Mobile Vision Care Program, to incorporate the SVOne mobile autorefractor developed by Smart Vision Labs into their vision screening process. The SVOne device will be used in addition to the standard visual acuity tests required for school-based vision screenings, which vary state by state.
Currently, Smart Vision Labs technology is used primarily by optometrists. The Mobile Vision Care Program will examine the potential benefits of training school nurses and health coordinators to incorporate this innovative, user-friendly technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of student vision screenings.
“The visual acuity tests used by many schools still rely on the Snellen eye chart, which was created more than 150 years ago,” says Yaopeng Zhou, CEO and founder, Smart Vision Labs. “While it is still considered to be a highly effective test, we want to evaluate the potential impact that mobile vision technology can have on improving vision screening outcomes for school teams and students.”
Providing school-based access to follow-up vision care is an important program priority. Students with failed vision screenings will have the opportunity to receive a comprehensive eye exam and glasses provided at OneSight Vision Care Clinics held at participating school districts. All vision care services and glasses will be provided free of charge to students who are pre-qualified by school nurses to attend the clinic based on visual and financial need.
The Mobile Vision Care Program launches this week at OneSight’s Omaha Vison Care Clinic held in partnership with Omaha Public Schools and Building Healthy Futures. Approximately 600 students will receive a vision screening incorporating the SVOne mobile device followed by a comprehensive eye exam. Every child who needs glasses as prescribed by clinic doctors will receive them free of charge. The clinic is part of a long-term strategic partnership between OneSight, Building Healthy Future and Omaha Public Schools to establish two permanent school-based vision centers serving Omaha Public School students year-round.