“Before I wore glasses, I couldn’t see anything when my teacher was writing on the blackboard.”
If there was any doubt that being able to see well is a critical component to a child’s education, it is quotes like this one from a fourth-grader in Costa Rica that remind us just how fundamental one’s vision is. Despite this, in high-needs communities like the ones where the Aprender y Crecer program operates in Central America, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, detecting vision problems and procuring glasses are needs that are frequently not met.
About 25% of children will naturally need glasses. But walking the classrooms in local schools, far fewer than 25% of students are actually wearing glasses. What does this mean? These students who need glasses but don’t wear them are more likely to be misdiagnosed with behavioral problems, learning challenges, and many may eventually drop out of school altogether.
Leveraging the opening of optical centers at PriceSmart clubs throughout the region, Aprender y Crecer will now be offering vision screenings to the more than 135,000 students at public schools that benefit from the program. Students who are found to need vision correction will then receive an eye exam as well as a pair of eyeglasses, all free of charge.
“I’m really grateful for this project because I have been able to study better, I don’t have to strain my eyes, and I don’t get headaches anymore.”
Yelani Mora, a fourth-grade student at Escuela Central San Sebastián in Costa Rica, shares this message upon receiving her very first pair of glasses.
To date, more than 8,100 students have had their vision screened, more than 2,300 have received eye exams, and more than 2,100 have received glasses. About 55% of these are receiving their very first pair of glasses.
“I like it better now that I wear glasses because I can see colors and appreciate nature. I see better!,” continued Yelani.
Our vision program is currently being implemented in Costa Rica, and will launch in the Dominican Republic in early October.