Developed with local partners in 2019 for the Education Foundation of Ottawa, the Eyes to As program addresses the vision care needs of nearly 10,000 school children within Ottawa’s largest public school board.
While vision care should never be a barrier to a child’s pursuit of learning and social development, the reality is that not all children have equal access to or awareness of proper vision care or vision correction. Socio-economic, cultural and language barriers exist within some populations and communities in every school system, and these barriers can make it difficult for some children to learn and develop socially at the same pace as their classmates. In fact, it has been identified that 60% of children with difficulties learning to read have uncorrected vision issues. Often, what is seen as a learning or behavioural issue can be attributed to a lack of vision correction.
“The Education Foundation of Ottawa and Essilor have created a partnership through our Eyes to A’s Vision Care Program that allows us to bridge the gap for Ottawa-Carleton District School Board students most in need. Through a comprehensive process that screens, identifies, and responds to childhood vision issues, we are able to provide support that is efficient, effective, and equitable.”
— Clarissa Arthur
Executive Director, Education Foundation of Ottawa
The program is staffed by volunteers and optical professionals from the local area, bringing different resources to work together toward a common, and complete, goal. Eyes to As is made up of Lions Club International members, community volunteers, Essilor Vision Foundation employees, medical students from Ottawa University’s iScreen interest group, and staff from the Canadian Council of the Blind.
The program offers a preliminary vision screening to all students within an eligible school. This simple and effective initial step helps to identify which children may be suffering from vision issues and are in most urgent need of a full examination by an optometrist.
Children invited for an eye exam who have returned a completed consent form to the school are able to be visited by a licensed optometrist right in their school.
Parents are able to feel comfortable and secure knowing that the examination is taking place in a trusted environment, without having to take time away from school or work, or arrange for transportation. The children being examined feel safer and more at ease seeing the doctor in a familiar and trusted environment.
Any child requiring vision correction will be given a prescription for glasses and introduced to an optician, who will help in the selection of a frame that’s both fun and stylish as well as suitable for their vision needs.
Parents are welcome to attend the selection of glasses if they wish, and the glasses are supplied completely at no charge. The new glasses, complete with impact and harmful blue light resistant lenses, are delivered to the school along with instructions and contacts for any additional follow up that is needed.
Clarissa Arthur, Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Ottawa, speaks about the Eyes to A’s Vision Care Program in Ottawa:
Since 2017, we have been proud to support the vision care component of the Toronto Foundation for Student Success Gift of Sight and Sound program. This ambitious program helps to address the vision care needs of more than 16,000 students each year living in Toronto’s highest needs communities. This program offers services in 12 languages within the one place children trust the most outside their homes: their school.
The mission of the Special Olympics – Lions Club International Opening Eyes program is to improve the quality of life of millions of individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities by optimizing their vision and eye health through quality eye care.
This program brings together volunteer vision care professionals from the optometric community, volunteers from the Lions Club International, and frame and lens sponsors in an event that enriches everyone involved and changes lives through improved vision. Athletes, parents and coaches are educated on the importance of regular eye checks, and athletes are fitted with new corrective eyewear or sport goggles, if needed.
Objectives of Opening Eyes® include providing screenings to Special Olympics, educating athletes, parents and coaches about the importance of regular eye care; educating and changing attitudes of eye care professionals about the vision care needs of persons with intellectual disabilities worldwide; and increasing knowledge of visual and eye health needs of persons with intellectual disabilities through research.
The Essilor Vision Foundation in Canada is proud to partner with the British Columbia Doctors of Optometry in the launch of their EyeLearn children’s vision program. With the ambitious aim to increase awareness for good visual health and a much greater percentage of children receiving eye examinations in British Columbia, this new partnership hopes to see 121,000 children examined in the next year, with 4,000 receiving glasses for the first time.
Essilor Vision Foundation Canada is partnered with Manitoba Mobile Vision Care Clinic, with an objective to bring the benefits of a comprehensive eye exam and vision correction to students in need within the Winnipeg School Division. Like other programs we support, MVCC brings vision care into the school environment, where it is convenient, safe, and children feel at ease. Students are provided with a quality eye exam, and glasses are available for selection on site should it be found that a prescription is necessary. This program addresses the unmet vision care needs of thousands of students each year, helping improve their academic journey by esnuring they can see well.
The Essilor Vision Foundation Canada partnered with the Alberta Association of Optometrists in 2019 to support AAO’s Eye See… Eye Learn program. This excellent program sees optometrists across the province of Alberta offer a comprehensive eye exam and eyeglasses to kindergarten-aged children, free of charge. Ensuring clear vision for children just starting their education journey, this partnership truly works to Improve Lives through Improved Sight for thousands of children each year.
Thanks to the tireless work of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Optometrists, and with the support of the Essilor Vision Foundation Canada and the provincial government, the Eye See… Eye Learn program was launched in 2021 across the beautiful province of Newfoundland and Labrador. As with the program in Alberta, this program offers a comprehensive eye exam and eyeglasses, if needed, to kindergarten-aged children anywhere in the province. This initiative helps children start school free of the disadvantage of poor vision, so they can See More and Be More.