Free eye clinic helps kids see clearly

The Dallas Morning News - - Obituaries -

HOUS­TON — Chaise Perry can’t quite see the words in his fa­vorite Pete the Cat books, or those on the white­board at the front of his Fran­cone Ele­men­tary School class­room.

On Wed­nes­day, he grabbed at holo­gram wasps to gauge his depth per­cep­tion. At a free eye-test­ing clinic at the Richard E. Berry Ed­u­ca­tional Sup­port Cen­ter in Cy­press, Chaise traced rain­bow-col­ored hex­o­grams to test for color­blind­ness.

Soon, a pair of bright, red glasses will ar­rive for him, and he’ll sit in his usual as­signed seat and no longer squint.

The Hous­ton Health De­part­ment es­ti­mates up to 20,000 area stu­dents start school each year with un­re­solved eye or vi­sion is­sues — a prob­lem so per­va­sive that, in 2011, the agency and its non­profit wing, the Hous­ton Health Foun­da­tion, be­gan of­fer­ing free, full eye ex­ams to 10 school districts. Through a data-shar­ing agree­ment with the Hous­ton In­de­pen­dent School District, the Health Foun­da­tion was able to track the progress of its 2015 pro­gram par­tic­i­pants in the year af­ter they were treated.

All told, 80 per­cent of stu­dents saw grades im­prove. Of that group, 67 per­cent passed math af­ter fail­ing it the year be­fore, the study found. Another 93 per­cent of those stu­dents re­ceived pass­ing grades in read­ing or lan­guage arts, de­spite fail­ing it a year ear­lier.

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