By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Tribune Newspapers
3:45 PM EDT, September 14, 2011
While seniors have a monopoly on bad eyesight, children also suffer poor vision: 21 percent of preschoolers are farsighted, 4 percent are nearsighted and 10 percent have astigmatism, according to a National Institutes of Health-funded study released in August.
Even worse, just 40 percent of preschoolers have ever received vision screening, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, often due to lack of insurance or awareness. Left untreated, those conditions, normally correctable with eyeglasses, can lead to lasting vision problems such as lazy eye.
But, you can help.
VSP Vision Care, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the U.S., has launched an online Eye Pledge campaign: For every person who visits seemuchmore.com/eyepledge and promises to take care of his or her own eyes, VSP will donate a comprehensive eye exam and, if needed, a new pair of prescription glasses to a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. (You don't have to submit private information.)
VSP has pledged to donate up to 50,000 vouchers for eye exams, worth more than $19 million.
All 4,000 clubs across the country are eligible to receive the vouchers, and those pledging can choose to benefit their local club. Since the campaign launched in mid-August, more than 3,000 pledges have steered vouchers to 28 states. The campaign goes through mid-November.
"It's a phenomenal opportunity," said Sharon Hemphill, senior director of health and life skills at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Headaches, disruptive behavior, school performance, employment opportunities and social relationships can improve once kids correct their vision, she said.
VSP has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America since 1997, giving free eye exams to some 30,000 kids over the past 14 years, but this is the first year the organizations have involved the community or sought such a high goal.
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