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Eyes to A's

Addressing vision care needs within Ottawa’s largest public school board

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Developed with local partners in 2019 for the Education Foundation of Ottawa, the Eyes to As program addresses the vision care needs of nearly 10,000 school children within Ottawa’s largest public school board.

While vision care should never be a barrier to a child’s pursuit of learning and social development, the reality is that not all children have equal access to or awareness of proper vision care or vision correction. Socio-economic, cultural and language barriers exist within some populations and communities in every school system, and these barriers can make it difficult for some children to learn and develop socially at the same pace as their classmates. In fact, it has been identified that 60% of children with difficulties learning to read have uncorrected vision issues. Often, what is seen as a learning or behavioural issue can be attributed to a lack of vision correction.

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Eyes to As and the team in Canada

How it works?

The program is staffed by volunteers and optical professionals from the local area, bringing different resources to work together toward a common, and complete, goal. Eyes to As is made up of Lions Club International members, community volunteers, Essilor Vision Foundation employees, medical students from Ottawa University’s iScreen interest group, and staff from the Canadian Council of the Blind.

The program offers a preliminary vision screening to all students within an eligible school. This simple and effective initial step helps to identify which children may be suffering from vision issues and are in most urgent need of a full examination by an optometrist.

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Eyes to As in Canada

Children invited for an eye exam who have returned a completed consent form to the school are able to be visited by a licensed optometrist right in their school.

Parents are able to feel comfortable and secure knowing that the examination is taking place in a trusted environment, without having to take time away from school or work, or arrange for transportation. The children being examined feel safer and more at ease seeing the doctor in a familiar and trusted environment.

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Eyes to As screenings

Any child requiring vision correction will be given a prescription for glasses and introduced to an optician, who will help in the selection of a frame that’s both fun and stylish as well as suitable for their vision needs.

Parents are welcome to attend the selection of glasses if they wish, and the glasses are supplied completely at no charge. The new glasses, complete with impact and harmful blue light resistant lenses, are delivered to the school along with instructions and contacts for any additional follow up that is needed.

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“Access to vision care shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone, let alone students attempting to learn.

The Education Foundation of Ottawa and Essilor have created a partnership through our Eyes to A’s Vision Care Program that allows us to bridge the gap for Ottawa-Carleton District School Board students most in need. Through a comprehensive process that screens, identifies, and responds to childhood vision issues, we are able to provide support that is efficient, effective, and equitable.

Thanks to the Eyes to A’s Vision Care Program we have another way that we ensure students have the tools they need to be successful. We look forward to finding innovative ways to adapt and grow our program to continue to meet the needs of our families and our schools."
Clarissa Arthur
Executive Director Education Foundation of Ottawa