"Vision To Learn" Gives Iowa Students Free Glasses

Dubuque Community Foundation, President Nancy Van Milligen admires a Fulton Elementary School...
Dubuque Community Foundation, President Nancy Van Milligen admires a Fulton Elementary School Student's new glasses.(KCRG)
Published: Jan. 29, 2016 at 2:35 PM CST
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Some Dubuque and Jackson County students are seeing clearer all because of a community effort.

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and national non-profit “Vision To Learn” has provided free eye exams and new pairs of glasses to dozens of Iowa children. It's all part of a pilot program to help students see so they can succeed in the classroom.

According to Vision to Learn, 1.5 million students in the U.S. need glasses, but don't have them. Twenty thousand students in Iowa need glasses, but don't have them. Vision to Learn and Theisen's Farm Home Auto have provided 178 exams to kids in Jackson and Dubuque Counties.

About 30 students at Fulton Elementary School are now seeing better wearing their glasses. Educators says students who can't see, struggle to read. The ability to read by 3rd grade has long been a reliable predictor of any child's future success. During an assembly at the Fulton School, one by one each student tried on their brand new glasses.

Program directors say students don't often verbalize their need to see better and often parents and teachers can miss the signs that a student is struggling because of vision issues.

Fourth grade student Isabel Fullbright got her first pair of glasses on Friday. She says she's now able to see all of her friend's faces more clearly. It wasn't until putting on her glasses that she realized there were paintings of athletes on the walls of her school's gymnasium.

"They looked like just a blob of color. [I see] a lot of stuff - hockey, football, a whole bunch of football and hockey and volleyball, like sports," Fullbright said.

Theisen’s announced the glasses giveaway at Fulton is just the beginning of the company’s involvement with the "Vision to Learn" program. Jim Theisen says he wants to help every single child in Iowa get a free exam, and get them the glasses they need.