Free eye exam available for third graders who failed state readi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Free eye exam available for third graders who failed state reading test

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Vision problems could stop a child's learning in its tracks.

A new program launched Monday will provide free eye exams to every third grader who failed the state reading test. Even those without insurance can get glasses, if needed.

Shanda Turner's daughters both started wearing glasses when they were two-years-old.

"They can see," said Turner. "It changes their lives. It brings the world to them."

Neither of their vision problems would've been caught by a typical vision screening when they reached school age.

"She would've been that child in the back of the classroom that was not seeing and probably would've never said anything," Turner noted in reference to her youngest daughter.

Optometrist Dr. Tonyatta Hairston says the screenings usually only test distance vision.

"Undoubtedly it will also miss a great percentage of any child that is farsighted or has a tracking problem," Hairston explained.

That doesn't mean the child isn't seeing a blurred letter or symbol. A major vision problem can have a simple fix--with glasses.

"Certainly we would love to see this happening before they start school," said Hairston. "Let's catch them early."

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and other lawmakers say it will take a community effort to reduce the failure rate. But thinks these kinds of programs are good starting points.

"We're going to see improvements each year," described Reeves. "This was our first time to take test. And so I'm encouraged that we're placing more and more of an emphasis on the third grade gate and literacy."

Shanda Turner is thankful her girls are seeing the world more clearly now.

"And I'm forever going to say, just take the time," Turner advised. "Go get a comprehensive eye exam."

162 optometrists in 64 counties around the state are participating in this program. It will last until July 31st.

Parents will need a letter proving the child failed the third grade reading test when they go to the appointment.

To locate a participating optometrist, parents of eligible third graders should go to this website or call 601.572.0845.

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