Eyeglasses: The Critical Difference for So Many Struggling Students

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022
Vision To Learn was founded in Los Angeles in 2012 to ensure that every child in America has the glasses they need to succeed in school.

Five-year-old Noah was almost legally blind, pressing his nose against the page to make sense of the words. Then a mobile eye clinic showed up at his kindergarten and ordered him his first pair of glasses, for free.

“When I didn’t have my glasses I couldn’t see with my scooter, and I always fell,” Noah says, beaming. “Now that I have my glasses, I can ride my scooter.”

Noah is among the nearly 500,000 kids across the nation with poor eyesight given a clear shot at the blackboard by Vision To Learn, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit agency dedicated to ensuring each child has the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life.

More than two million students across the country lack the glasses they need to succeed in school. Students with uncorrected vision problems often avoid reading, suffer headaches, and have trouble focusing in class because most learning in the first 12 years is visual. 

Each of our mobile clinics is serviced by a trained optician and a licensed optometrist, and is outfitted with the exact same equipment that you’d find in a eye doctor’s office.

Many end up failing grades, dropping out of school, or engaging in disruptive behavior. Up to 70 percent of juvenile offenders have issues related to uncorrected vision, the nonprofit reported.

Enter Vision To Learn, founded a decade ago with a single mobile eye clinic in Los Angeles and the vision of its founder: businessman and philanthropist Austin Beutner.

“Every child, every school, everywhere in the country should have the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life,” says Beutner.

Bringing the care involves rolling up in a specially designed mobile vision clinic. A licensed optometrist then provides eye exams for all students who fail an initial screening. Kids who need glasses then choose among a variety of frames.

Two weeks later, Vision To Learn returns to hand them a free pair of prescription glasses. If they’re lost or broken, they’re replaced free of charge. 

Studies at UCLA and John Hopkins University show that the free eyeglasses from Vision To Learn have enabled kids with poor vision – especially those at the bottom of their classes – to do better in school.

Vision To Learn helps thousands of students throughout the nine-county Bay Area and Sacramento. Nationally, they have 42 clinics that serve more than 750 underserved communities in 13 states and the District of Columbia. This year, the organization expects to give 100,000 pairs of prescription glasses to needy kids, an agency record.

“Time and time again, every day, when a child gets their glasses, they put them on their nose, and then there’s this huge smile on their face,” says Ann Hollister, Vision To Learn’s president.

For Noah, the new glasses were a godsend.

“He was actually two lines away from being legally blind,” his mother says, choking with emotion during a YouTube testimonial. “Amazing, just to see the growth that has happened since he’s gotten his glasses – he just seems like a happier child.”


Vision to Learn

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(310) 893-2336
National Director and Chief of Staff: Damian Carroll


Vision to Learn provides free eye exams and glasses to kids in underserved communities.

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Vision To Learn is making sure that access to a pair of glasses never stands between children and their ability to see the board, read a book, or participate in class. It is such a cost-effective yet powerful way to improve a child’s learning experience and make sure they do not fall behind. Vision To Learn helps some of the hardest-to-reach children and your donations will mean more students receiving the eye care and glasses they need to learn and live clearly.
Nicholas Kristof, Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times columnist

For Just $150, You Can Change a Child’s Life

“If a student comes to school with a physical disability, state law requires the school to make accommodations. But we don’t have the same legal requirement for glasses. Yet hundreds of thousands of kids in the state of California go to school and cannot see the board, cannot read a book, and cannot fully participate in class simply because they don’t have this one basic tool,” says Damian Carroll, Vision To Learn’s national director and chief of staff. 

These students already have the power to succeed inside of them. Underserved California students can reach their potential by simply being provided with the glasses they need to see and thrive. 

For $150, you can sponsor a child’s eye care and change the course of their life. For $25,000, your contribution will help an entire school reach their potential.

Key Supporters

Beutner Family Foundation
Blue Meridian Partners
Boeing Global
Engagement Foundation
Deerbrook Charitable Trust
Focusing Philanthropy
Frank McHugh-O’Donovan
Foundation, Inc.
L.A. Clippers Foundation
L.A. Dodgers Foundation
OneSight Essilor Luxottica
Panda Cares
Shea Family Charities
Silicon Valley
Community Foundation
Sobrato Philanthropies
The Eli and Edythe
Broad Foundation
Warby Parker
Warriors Community Foundation