Education and the Importance of Sight

September 19th, 2014 by TOMS

Dr. Corey Hodes is a Los Angeles-based optometrist working with TOMS Sight Giving Partner Helen Keller International’s ChildSight program. We’re excited to have Dr. Hodes share his story with you as a ChildSight® optometrist and why vision is so important for a child’s future in education.

Vision is the most important aspect in learning and education. But each year in the United States, two million children suffer from uncorrected refractive errors. Without glasses, these children struggle in school because they are unable to clearly focus on the white-board, reading material, classroom lectures or homework assignments. A simple pair of prescription eye glasses can help a child improve their academic performance, increase self-esteem, help them interact better in social settings and, most importantly, maximize their potential.

Sight U.S.

For the past eight years, I have been an optometrist with Helen Keller International’s ChildSight® program in Los Angeles. This school-based program provides free vision screenings and eyeglass distribution for students living in low-income neighborhoods. Many of the children we serve don’t have access to vision care and cannot afford glasses. For me, it’s been extremely rewarding to take a day each week away from my normal practice and go directly into the schools to help provide this essential service.

A typical day in a school goes something like this: We bring mobile eye exam equipment to schools throughout Southern California school districts. After setting up, the kids are screened for distance and near visual acuity, color vision and stereovision. Children who fail the screening get sent to me for a full refraction for glasses. For some, this is the first time they have had their eyes checked, and have no idea they needed glasses. They can’t even see the big E on the eye chart. They didn’t realize that the world wasn’t supposed to be so blurry!

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Once I put new glasses on the kids, their vision has been completely refined; we’re able to get them reading down to the 20/20 line. For me, the best part is how so surprised kids are at how well they can see; you can see their face light up with excitement knowing their world will be so much clearer.

I really enjoy hearing all the success stories from teachers and school nurses that follow these students daily. We consistently hear that children are having less difficulty in school and can concentrate better in class, resulting in a higher learning level. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that through ChildSight®, I can help and have the ability to make a big impact in the future of these kids by correcting their vision and allowing them to function better in school.

Eighty percent of what a child learns in his or her first 12 years of life is through vision. For many students, the gift of sight means improved access to education or the ability to perform better in school. This World Sight Day, we want to know what sight means to you. Snap a photo on Oct. 9 and hashtag it #GIVESIGHT. To learn more, visit www.toms.com/world-sight-day.