Hartford Public Library and non-profit team Vision to Learn will provide kids with free exams and glasses

The Hartford Public Library and the nonprofit organization Vision to Learn are offering free eye exams and glasses to city kids just in time for the start of the school year.

Exams are due to begin Monday 8-15 at the Dwight Library and continue through August 24 at other branches and the Main Street Library. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 860-695-6300.

According to Vision to Learn, about 40,000 children in the state’s worst-performing school districts lack the glasses needed to see a whiteboard, read a book, or participate in class. Across the country, around 2 million students lack the glasses they need, stifling their ability to learn and contributing to the cycle of poverty, according to the organization.

Founded in 2012 by the Beutner Family Foundation, the organization claims to have provided around 340,000 children with eye exams and around 270,000 with glasses. According to Vision to Learn, about 90% of children helped lived in poverty and about 85% were children of color.

The Hartford Library and Vision to Learn launched their partnership in June and provided free exams and eyeglasses to 30 children at two branches, library spokesman Russell Blair said Friday.

Syeita Rhey-Fisher said her daughter, Nyeima Fisher, 9, had glasses but the Vision to Learn exam showed she needed a new prescription to help her see more clearly. Examinations also showed that Nyeima’s two siblings, NyAsia, 7, and Devon, 5, who had never worn glasses before, were both farsighted. So they both got new glasses for back to school, Rhey-Fisher said.

She’s an elementary ELA coach in the city school district, Rhey-Fisher said, but the vision coverage in her health insurance isn’t the best. She paid $200 for the original Nyeima glasses, Rhey-Fisher said. She said she was grateful for the program.

The free exams are open to children aged 5 to 18. No insurance is required. Children who need glasses receive a free pair two to four weeks later, Blair said.

The August schedule is as follows: Monday at the Dwight Library, 7 New Park Ave. ; Tuesday at Barbour Library, 261 Barbour Street; Wednesday at the Albany Library, 1250 Albany Ave.; Aug. 22 at Camp Field Library, 30 Campfield Ave.; Aug. 23 at Park Street Library @ the Lyric, 603 Park St.; and August 24 at the Downtown Library, 500 Main St.

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Luz W. German