Increasing Vision Screening Services in New York City Schools
Special Projects Fund
October 22, 2019
Undiagnosed vision problems are particularly common for children with limited access to preventive and vision health services. Untreated vision problems can seriously hinder a child’s ability to learn, as an estimated 80% of learning occurs through the eyes. Approximately 20% of kindergarten and first grade students fail vision screening tests, and by high school, an estimated 25% of students cannot read the blackboard without corrective lenses
NYSHealth awarded the Fund for Public Health in New York a grant to pilot a vendor-based model to provide vision screenings, exams, and glasses to middle and high school students in New York City. The pilot project showed promise as a model for cost savings, but the nature of public schools presented challenges to the project’s implementation. Learn more about the project’s successes and challenges, as well as valuable lessons learned, and how they can inform future programs that seek to address vision health services for school children.
Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: The City of New York committed $2 million to this project.
Since the close of this grant, the City of New York, the Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools, and the Office of School Health embarked on a separate pilot with the eyewear company Warby Parker—the Pupils Project. Informed by lessons of the NYSHealth-funded pilot, the Pupils Project provided free vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to students enrolled in 224 New York City community schools. Additionally, during his 2019 State of the City Address, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that starting in fall 2019, all New York City kindergarteners and first graders will receive prescription eyeglasses if they need them.