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New Initiative Aims To Provide Struggling Students With Free Glasses, Screenings

BALTIMORE (WJZ)--Nearly 1 in 5 children need glasses, but children in low-income communities often go without them.

As Amy Yensi reports, now a new citywide initiative is hoping to change for kids in Baltimore.

Being able to see in the classroom is an essential part of learning.

But in Baltimore, nearly 10,000 students who need glasses, don't have them, according to the city's health department.

Now the agency is partnering with the Vision to Learn organization and Johns Hopkins University to launch "Vision for Baltimore."

"This is one thing that we can do to set up our kids for success in health and in school," said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

Currently, Maryland law mandates vision screenings for pre-kindergarten, first grade and 8th grade students adding up to about 22,000 vision screenings each year.

But the public school system serves over 62,000 students in those grades.

That means some students may not get the screenings for years.

"I can't really focus on my schoolwork, but now that I  have a pair of glasses that I can see better in, it's way more better," said Adam Gousse, a Baltimore student.

As part of the program, students get an eye exam and glasses delivered within 2 weeks to their school, regardless of their family's ability to pay for them.

"Glasses can be very expensive I'm quite sure you guys know in the economy that we're in. So every little bit helps," said Sherene Peterson.

Ray Lewis and Crockett Gillmore of the Ravens are helping the kids try on their new specs.

"Glasses are freakin' cool," said Lewis.

The new glasses helping the students to focus on the future.

Johns Hopkins University will be closing monitoring the success of the vision for Baltimore program.

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