In many communities in the Bay Area, preschool-aged children are growing up with undiagnosed vision problems. For these children, these problems—left untreated—can lead to permanent vision problems which impair learning ability, and cause long-term academic and social harm … and eventually, life outcomes and even future earnings. For them, the window that good vision offers into the world may never fully open.
See Well to Learn provide access to comprehensive, multi-lingual vision care—in-school screenings, with dilated eye exams, and glasses to these primarily low-income children who need it most… in fact, usage of the MediCal vision benefit is as low as 3% in this segment of the population.
Merely prescribing glasses does not mean children will wear them. In low-income populations, the challenge includes providing education to parents and educators as well as finding ways to bring trained screeners and pediatric optometrists to those areas that lack access to these services.
Why invest in early childhood programs? Some early childhood programs studied by Nobel laureate James Heckman produce double digit returns on investment, outperforming the S&P 500, yet only eight percent of our federal budget supports children…
During the crucial early childhood years, proper diagnosis and correction of vision problems, helps even the playing field with their peers, and facilitates kindergarten readiness, and ultimately paves a path to third-grade literacy, which we know is a key indicator for academic achievement, high school graduation, and better life choices and outcomes.
If we do not provide proper vision care services at this key age… these children will fall through the cracks, and could be falsely diagnosed with learning disabilities, or be labelled a “problem child” and never catch up.
Focusing on solving vision problems prevents the short and long-term academic deficits, literacy gaps and social-emotional damages which untreated vision impairment frequently leads to—and does so in the key neurological time frame in which it is possible to effectively treat.
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This piece was contributed by Andrew Arnold, Director of Development at See Well to Learn.