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Free Eye Exams For Children In Philadelphia Saturday

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Public Citizens for Children and Youth and Eagles Youth Partnership have teamed up with Wills Eye Institute for Give Kids Sight Day on Saturday.

State law requires that all schools give students an annual vision screening. And while the School District of Philadelphia reports that it has done its part, statistics show that during the 2009-10 school year 66 percent of the kids that failed their eye exam -- that's nearly 16,000 students -- did not follow up with an eye doctor.

"Last year we saw over 1400 kids for Give Kids Sight Day and wrote over 600 prescriptions for glasses," Wills Eye Institute Ophthalmologist-in-Chief Dr. Julia Haller says parents and children lined the block for the free eye screenings for all kids under 18, as well as free glasses-- a service she says was urgent in some cases.

"On one end we had kids who just needed glasses and on the other end we found kids who had serious ocular pathology. We saw kids with retinal detachments and glaucoma and ambioblia in urgent need of medical care."

And this is a critical problem because children need to be able to see in order to be successful, says Sarah Martinez-Helfman, Executive Director of the Eagles Youth Partnership.

"If a kids sitting in a classroom and an "o" looks like and "e" and an "8" looks like a zero, that kid has just failed reading and math."

Give Kids Sight Day is this Saturday from at Jeferson Hospital's Alumni Hall, located at 10th and Locust Streets from 8:30a to 1pm.  Organizers say no appointment or insurance is needed and all languages are welcome.  Interpreters will be on hand. For more info go to

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