Providing Glasses To Help Children Succeed in School

By Giving List Staff   |   November 17, 2023
Providing students in need with glasses helps them gain 2-6 months of additional learning time.

Six-year-old Yahaira’s favorite part of school was looking at picture books. But as her vision became worse, she couldn’t enjoy storytime with the rest of her classmates. This all changed when Vision To Learn visited her school, giving Yahaira a vision screening, eye exam, a prescription, and a pair of glasses all at no cost.

“I’m happy to have these glasses because I can do so many things. I can hula hoop, play with dogs, and draw pictures,” said Yahaira. 

Yahaira’s story is a common one in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area. According to the American Optometric Association, one in four children has vision problems. Despite this, most children in low-income areas don’t receive the glasses they need to see clearly at school. Instead, children like Yahaira are too frequently labeled “slow” learners and are more likely to drop out of school. 

The real tragedy is that our country has the resources to prevent this. Most children in underserved communities are eligible to receive eye care coverage under Medi-Cal. But as Austin Beutner, founder of Vision To Learn (VTL) reminds us: “Coverage is not access.” 

At VTL, the team strives to solve vision care inequality at the source. VTL provides vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to all children in need at no cost to them or their families, while working with government partners to advocate for greater vision care accessibility. 

With help from dedicated donors, since their founding in 2012, VTL has made great progress towards their mission to help every child in need get the glasses they need. Last year alone, VTL provided more than 80,000 children with glasses they needed but did not have, in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Without VTL’s intervention, these children would be left with vision problems that, at best, will set back their education and, at worst, could be caused by a condition like amblyopia or strabismus that, left untreated, may cause permanent blindness.

A groundbreaking 2021 study from Johns Hopkins University showed the potential that is unlocked when children are provided with the glasses they desperately need.  

According to the study, providing children with glasses is among the most effective interventions known to raise academic performance. By simply helping these children see clearly, academic performance improved above and beyond other, more complicated school-wide initiatives such as lengthening the school day, buying iPads, or creating charter schools. Providing students with glasses was also the most cost-effective solution. From initial screening to providing the actual glasses, VTL only needs to spend $150 to treat each child. 

While Vision To Learn has visited thousands of schools and provided millions of children with no-cost vision care and eyeglasses, there are still millions more underserved students out there who need glasses and are struggling to see the board, focus on a book, read a computer screen, or catch a ball. VTL needs your support to allow these children to focus on their future. 


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