HEHC: $77,500 granted to children’s vision projects nationwide

HEHC: $77,500 granted to children’s vision projects nationwide

Community programs spanning more than a dozen states received $77,500 in grants from Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation to help raise awareness and access to vision care services for underserved children.

"This program is growing and the emphasis on collaboration with community partners outside of optometry is increasing the sustainable delivery of quality optometric vision care for many more underserved children in need."

In its third year, the Healthy Eyes Healthy Children (HEHC) Community Grant Program awarded 17 grants of up to $5,000 each to grassroots projects that align with HEHC's goal: spreading awareness and increasing vision services to children with uncorrected refractive errors. The program is made possible through the generous support of founding sponsor Essilor Vision Foundation, Healthy Eyes Advantage and EyeCare Partners.

Carol Record, O.D., and Carol Marusich, O.D., Optometry Cares board members and HEHC committee co-chairs, say the program has seen marked increases in grant applications and funding with each new cycle, and 2019 is no different with 53 applications.

This year, priority was given to projects that built sustainability or had the greatest impact in terms of either direct care or eye health and vision care education, Dr. Record says. Many projects sought grants for logistical concerns, such as diagnostic equipment, while transportation to examination sites continues to be a barrier to care for many of these children.

"This year was particularly difficult to select recipients as almost all the proposals were worthy of funding," Dr. Record says.

Adds Dr. Marusich: "It has certainly been exciting to have almost twice as many HEHC projects proposed in this 2019 grant cycle. This program is growing and the emphasis on collaboration with community partners outside of optometry is increasing the sustainable delivery of quality optometric vision care for many more underserved children in need."

Learn more about how to participate in the 2020 HEHC grant cycle, and continue reading for more information about each of the grant recipients and their community initiatives:

Beyond 20/20 (Maryland)

Provides comprehensive eye exams and glasses to school-aged children who have failed current Maryland public school vision screening standards.

Beyond Glasses: Comprehensive Pediatric Eye Health (Texas)


Provides quality health care to underserved children and adolescents through the provision of comprehensive eye exams and glasses.

Bolivar County School Based Clinic (Mississippi)

Provides comprehensive eye exams and eyewear to approximately 2,000 students in two school districts in the Mississippi delta region, currently designated a Health Professional Shortage Area.

Building on Success: Bringing Sight Fest to Utah School Children (Utah)


Expands and adds Sight Fest events where volunteer doctors provide no-charge exams to underserved Utah schoolchildren.

Children's Eye Care Today and Tomorrow: 2020 Vision Campaign (Massachusetts)


Increases eye health awareness and the number of children receiving comprehensive eye care by developing a sustainable network for coordinating eye care in two Charleston, Massachusetts neighborhoods with high numbers of children living in poverty and insecure homes.

Children's Vision Education Project (Mississippi)

Raises awareness of the necessity and availability of eye exams for children - ages infant to third grade - while also seeking to increase the number of children's eye exams in Mississippi and bolster passing rates of the Third Grade Reading Assessment in target areas.

EYE Can Read, EYE Can Learn (Louisiana)


Provides comprehensive eye exams and glasses to underserved and homeless children in New Orleans and surrounding areas through partnerships with local homeless shelters, neighborhood associations and schools.

Eye on Education (New York)


Seeks to diagnose and treat blurred vision, amblyopia and ocular disease early, in order to enhance children's academic performance and well-being.

Healthy Eyes Healthy Children at Advanced Vision Center (Illinois)

Will host a 'lunch and learn' event at Schaumburg School District 54 Early Center with medical and administrative staff regarding the topic "Vision and Learning in Child Development," as well as distribute information to bolster awareness of optometry's role in vision, learning and child development. 


In-School Eye Exam (iSee) Program (Ohio)


Provides comprehensive eye exams and corrective lenses to economically and academically vulnerable students throughout Ohio.

Kids Vision for Life Educational Outreach (Missouri)

Seeks to bolster percentage of signed consent forms to increase number of eye exams furnished by providing educational resources to school nurses, parents and teachers.

Kindness to Prevent Blindness (Indiana)

Provides medical eye exams and two pairs of prescription glasses to all first, third, fifth and eighth grade students at St. Joseph County public schools as determined by an initial screening.

Looking Out for Kids - Vision Outreach (Pennsylvania)


Provides comprehensive vision care to economically disadvantaged public-school children in Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery counties.

Pennsylvania Children's Vision Care Alliance (Pennsylvania)

Establishes a network of Pennsylvania doctors of optometry who agree to provide eye and vision care to children by following the AOA's evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, promoting children's vision and networking with schools and other professions to improve the quality of children's vision.

Seeing Autism Through New Eyes (Mississippi)


Brings awareness about the significant visual disorders of children with autism and offers a one-day course on autism and vision.

South Dakota Mobile Vision Program (South Dakota)


Provides direct delivery of quality, annual eye care to South Dakota children whom historically haven't had immediate access to such care.

Vision 2020: Brighter Futures Project (Missouri)

Expands reach of timely eye care, promotes awareness of preventative eye care and provides eyeglasses to children in need.

Make a difference today


Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation is committed to seeing its vision come to fruition, raising awareness about the importance of eye health, increasing access to vision care, and providing support to doctors of optometry and students in need. Here's how you can help make a difference today:

"Your support enables Optometry Cares to develop and sustain projects, such as Healthy Eyes Healthy Children grants, so that every child can enjoy the benefits of eye care, regardless of financial status," Dr. Record says.

Read more
about HEHC success stories from the doctors of optometry championing the cause in the October 2018 AOA Focus.

September 3, 2019

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