Congressman James E. Clyburn and Vision to Learn Founder Austin Beutner Address National Vision Care Crisis Among School Children

More than 3 million children across the country go to school every day without the glasses they need. The need is most acute in low-income communities, where 90% of children who need glasses do not have them. Vision To Learn helps address the issue by providing vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to children at schools in low-income communities. 5,000 children in South Carolina have been provided with glasses by Vision To Learn.

Congressman Clyburn and Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner joined teachers, school staff and students of Eagle Nest Elementary School to recognize Charleston and North Charleston’s efforts to provide eye care to students.

In September 2021, Charleston Public Schools launched an effort together with non-profit charity Vision To Learn which has since provided vision screenings to more than 14,000 students and glasses to almost 5,000. Vision To Learn brings the services to where children are almost every day, their local neighborhood school. A Vision To Learn mobile clinic, staffed with licensed eye care professionals, has visited 40 schools in the Charleston area since the program started. Vision To Learn recently added a second mobile clinic with support from Margaret and John Thornton, the Kristof Impact Prize, and Boeing.

“More than 3 million children across the country go to school every day without the glasses they need,” said Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner. “Every child in every school, everywhere in the country, should have the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life.”

“When a child lacks access to glasses, that can mean the difference between them thriving at school or struggling to keep up,” said Rep. Clyburn. “Every child deserves to have the resources they need to succeed. Vision To Learn is making real progress in eliminating this inequity here in Charleston, but we need additional Federal and State government support to ensure no child is left behind.”

Dorchester School District 2 Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins said, “We are thrilled that Vision To Learn’s program is expanding to Dorchester. The need for student vision services is great. Bringing eye doctors directly to school sites is a wonderful way to make sure every student who needs glasses is helped.”

“Every child should have the opportunity to realize his or her potential and not be held back by issues that are easily addressed,” said Margaret Thornton, who grew up in Charleston, and wants to support school children in South Carolina.

Vision To Learn’s effort in South Carolina has found a large unmet need among students in the state. About 1/3 of students provided with a vision screening by Vision To Learn needed an eye exam, 85% of students who received an eye exam needed glasses and over 80% of them did not have them.

Experts estimate three to four million children across the country go to school every day unable to see the board or pages of a textbook clearly. About one in four children will naturally need glasses. Children who need glasses and don’t have them are more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavioral issues in kindergarten, be labeled “slow” learners by 5th grade, and to drop out of high school. Unfortunately, in low-income urban and rural communities, most children who need glasses don’t have them due to financial constraints, language barriers, unresponsive health bureaucracies or the simple fact there are no eye care professionals in their neighborhood.

Over the last decade, nonprofit charity Vision To Learn has worked to address the “glasses gap” by providing vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to kids where they are most days – at their neighborhood school. With a fleet of mobile clinics staffed with trained and licensed eye care professionals, Vision To Learn has helped ensure 2.8 million students across the country received vision screenings and provided more than 425,000 with glasses, all at no cost to the child or their family.

The impact of providing glasses to children at schools is shown in a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology by researchers from the Center for Research and Reform in Education and the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

The researchers conducted the largest and most rigorous study in the U.S. about the connection between glasses and academic achievement by comparing students’ standardized test scores before and after receiving glasses from Vision To Learn. Thousands of children from more than 100 schools in Baltimore participated in the study. The children who received glasses did much better in school and the impacts were greater than more costly measures such as lengthening the school day, providing computers, or creating charter schools. The children who showed the biggest gains, the equivalent of an additional four to six months of learning, were those who are often the hardest to help—students in the bottom quarter of their class academically and students with learning differences and disabilities.


About Vision To Learn

Vision To Learn, a non-profit charity, was founded in 2012 by Austin Beutner and the Beutner Family Foundation. Vision To Learn serves the needs of the hardest-to-reach children; about 90% of kids served by Vision To Learn live in poverty and about 85% are Black or Latino. Vision To Learn has provided more than 2.8 million children with vision screenings and more than 425,000 with glasses, in 16 states and the District of Columbia. It has also identified more than 50,000 children with more complex vision and medical issues – all at no cost to children or their families. For more information on Vision To Learn, please visit

Contact Information:
Damian Carroll
National Director
[email protected]
(818) 383-2335

Original Source: Congressman James E. Clyburn and Vision to Learn Founder Austin Beutner Address National Vision Care Crisis Among School Children

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