AUSTIN -- Imagine sitting in class, and seeing blurry versions of your books or blackboard.  It's a reality for so many children whose families can't afford eye care or glasses.

On Thursday some

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AUSTIN -- Imagine sitting in class, and seeing blurry versions of your books or blackboard.  It's a reality for so many children whose families can't afford eye care or glasses.

On Thursday some local non-profits unveiled a new mobile clinic that's giving hundreds of these kids a better life through better sight.

In the Perez Elementary School parking lot, community leaders and Austin ISD officials held a joyful ribbon-cutting to welcome the new Kids Vision for Life Central Texas mobile vision clinic.

Seton Health Care donated the 40-foot van. With optometrists on board, it brings eye exams and prescription glasses to students on campuses around Austin.

According to Austin ISD, up to 75 percent of students who fail their required school vision screening don't follow up with an eye doctor, and due to transportation issues and cost, many families can't get their kids the glasses that they need.

"We know that 85 percent of learning comes through your eyes and ears, and if you can't see what you're reading or see what's on the chalkboard, you can't learn very effectively," said Tracy Lunoff, AISD's assstant health director.

Lunoff says this spring the mobile van will perform vision clinics at 25 low-income schools and can screen between 30 to 40 kids a day.

“They can have their additional screening on the van, pick out their very trendy colorful frames and then be fitted with their brand new glasses prescribed for them in about an hour, without missing any class time," Lunoff said.

Austin Community Foundation CEO Jim Pendergast says new glasses not only help a child's vision, but their self-esteem as well.
 
“It's obviously going to help them in their education where they can see and read and participate better and feel better about themselves,” he said. “Plus they get cool glass frames. They don't get dorky frames. They get to pick out good frames."

And thanks to generous donations from the community, the eye exams and the glasses are free.

The Mobile Vision Clinic will be at AISD's Spanish-language education fair on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Highland Mall.

 

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Thu, Feb 20, 2014 7:12 PM EST