YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – This week, more than 600 pairs of glasses were handed out to students from 11 Valley schools, all thanks to a special program.
The gift may be something small, but it means a lot to the students, one of which woke up Friday morning with no idea that her world would become a lot clearer.
“Everything small until I put these on and then boom! Bigness,” said fourth-grader Aysia Hines, one of 25 students at Paul Bunn Elementary who received a pair of glasses.
For most of these children, it was their first time seeing through a pair of glasses. The issue is nationwide.
“More than 50% of children who fail a vision screening never get an eye exam,” said Dr. Sergul Erzurum, an optometrist.
There are many reasons why children don’t get exams if they fail screenings. The most common is access.
Erzurum is the co-founder and president of Sight for All United.
Through Sight for All United, Youngstown and Liberty students received a free pair of custom prescribed glasses.
Erzurum said the program started after she took a look at childhood poverty rates in Ohio.
“Where there is higher poverty there is less access to care. By reducing the barriers for their access to care, we’re able to help deliver it,” she said.
Leading up to Friday, the United Way screened over 2,500 children to see who qualified. Then, opticians from Eye Care Associates delivered the glasses to students.
“It’s very rewarding to see them see, not realizing what they’ve been missing. It never gets old for me,” said Amal Niser, an optician.
Sight for All United said the program will soon be in two more local school districts. First in Crestview, then in Warren.