Apollo Award

The Realeyes Program

The Realeyes Program

The Realeyes Program is a classroom-based public health initiative created by the Ohio Optometric Association with a generous grant from the Ohio Department of Health Save Our Sight Fund. The goal of the program is to educate young Ohioans of the importance of vision health and eye safety. Realeyes is presented by volunteer doctors of optometry to approximately 105,000 students per year throughout all 88 Ohio counties. The topics presented include eye safety, eye anatomy, vision disorders, and ocular health disorders.

This public-private partnership dates back to 1998 when legislation was enacted allowing Ohioans to donate $1 to the Save Our Sight fund when completing vehicle registration/renewal at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The fund, administered by the Ohio Department of Health, provides vision-related public health grants to statewide agencies. The Realeyes Program has consistently received funding since its inception in 2000 and is the only educational program to be funded by the Save Our Sight Grant.

Realeyes consists of five standardized age-appropriate curricula including videos, activities, lectures, and handouts for preschool through eighth grade students; the new program for high school students debuts in 2019. Each curriculum was developed through the collaborative efforts of health educators, teachers, optometrists, and faculty from The Ohio State University College of Optometry. It has specific, measurable learning objectives based on grade level which include: identifying parts of the eye and how the eye works; learning about eye protection, vision diseases and disorders; the importance of vision for reading and other daily activities; the value of regular eye exams; and understanding what goes on during an eye exam. Over the life of the program, teachers have completed 17,500 evaluations rating the program a 4.9/5.0.

Over 900 volunteer doctors of optometry have presented Realeyes in over 3,000 Ohio schools. These doctors perform a significant public service for the visual welfare of young Ohioans. The program fosters relationships between school communities and eye doctors, thus lowering barriers and providing access to information about eye and vision care. The messaging leads to positive behavioral changes in students.

In addition to classroom presentations, Realeyes has exhibited at over 525 school and community health fairs and educational conferences educating the public on the importance of a lifetime of vision care. The program also provides much needed vision-related supplies to school nurses. More than 4,000 school nurses have benefited from the "Emergency Eye Kit," which consists of an eyeglass repair kit, eye wash, contact lens solution, contact lens cases, a penlight, an eyeglass cleaning cloth, and an eye injury protocol sheet. To date, more than 10,000 Emergency Eye Kits have been placed in schools.  

The Realeyes program has reached more than 1.1 million school children in over 46,000 classrooms in all of Ohio's 88 counties since its inception in the year 2000. The program has engaged member doctors of the Ohio Optometric Association to volunteer as presenters and has helped them strengthen relationships with their local schools and communities. The Realeyes program truly exemplifies the concept and the spirit of public service for the visual welfare of others.