COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – It’s estimated that as much as 80 percent of the learning a child does is through his or her eyes for tasks like reading, writing, seeing the chalkboard and using the computer. Unfortunately, many children living in poverty who need glasses, are unable to buy them. One local foundation is now working to change that.
The Naples Children and Education Foundation’s Mobile Eye Exam Lab is the first of its kind in Florida. It travels across Collier County, ready to help more than 20,000 children each year at 24 underprivileged schools across the county.
“We are so proud that we have this screening available to us,” said Paula Bryant, Assistant Principal at Lake Trafford Elementary School.
WINK News caught up with the Mobile Eye Unit during a stop at Lake Trafford Elementary in Immokalee.
“Eye health is so important to academic achievement,” said Bryant. “Usually, when we have a student that’s experiencing academic issues the first thing we look at is their vision.”
The Naples Children and Education Foundation says 90 percent of the children living in poverty who need glasses, never get them.
“Our families don’t have the means to support the students’ eye health,” said Bryant.
That’s where the Mobile Eye Unit comes in. Each child gets a free exam by an eye doctor right at their school. If a child needs glasses, they get two pairs. One, to take home with them. The other, stays in class.
“The average pair of glasses would be anywhere from $100 to $150 dollars,” said Optician, Gonzalo Palacio, who works on the Mobile Eye Unit.
But, for the thousands of kids screened each year, it’s all free.
“Being able to offer that really feels good,” said Palacio.