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Free Eye Care Gives Poor Students 'Fighting Chance' To Succeed In School

03/03/2015 10:18 am ET | Updated Mar 06, 2015
Science Photo Library - IAN HOOTON. via Getty Images

An organization is bringing much-needed eye care to poor kids.

Eye Care 4 Kids is a charity that provides free eye examinations to kids from low-income households. The organization, which was founded by pediatric optician Joseph Carbone in 2001, has assisted around 100,000 children in Utah and Nevada, according to the Arizona Republic. Now, Cecil Swyers, a biomedical engineer who was once an underprivileged child himself, is bringing the charity's services to poor students in Arizona, so that vision impairment doesn't stand in the way of their education.

It's eye care that many of the children haven't received.

"Eye Care 4 Kids is bringing eye care and glasses to families that would not otherwise have the means for it," Mario Ventura, superintendent of Isaac Elementary School District, the first school district in Arizona to receive the nonprofit's services, told KPHO.

Good vision is crucial to a child's learning experience. According to the American Optometric Association, up to 80 percent of learning occurs through sight for children between 6 and 18 years old. Without proper eye care, Carbone says it's difficult for students to learn at their full potential.

"If the child can't see the chalkboard, they can't succeed. If they can't succeed, where does that leave anyone? These children are our future leaders," he told the Arizona Republic.

Swyers is hoping that by bringing the organization to Arizona, he'll help a lot more students. The biomedical engineer teamed up with the Arizona Optometric Association and Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center to get doctors to volunteer their time with the group, according to the Arizona Republic. Using an Eye Care 4 Kids mobile clinic, Swyers visited Alta E. Butler Elementary School last month and has already helped 40 students.

The school was grateful to receive the eye care, especially since the services came to them.

"It's great for us," Assistant Principal Cindy Alonso told the Arizona Republic. "A lot of our kids don't even have transportation."

Swyers is hoping to bring Eye Care 4 Kids' services to other schools and districts in the state, as well as to Native American reservations. He told KPHO that hopefully, his work will have a positive impact on students' futures.

"If we can help students while they are young, we can make a difference in their futures by giving them a fighting chance to make it through school," he said.

To learn more about Eye Care 4 Kids, visit their website here.

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