During a child's first 12 years, 80% of all learning is visual.

Without the ability to see clearly, thousands of central Iowa students struggle to read. And students who are not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. 

Vision To Learn provides two free pairs of eyeglasses –one pair to take home and one to leave at school – to students who need them. A trained eye care professional provides a modified screening exam with a full refraction for students who would otherwise not receive vision care. 

One small thing, glasses for a student in need, can lead to so many bigger things: feeling confident, being able to more clearly see the world around them, the potential to read proficiently by the end of third grade, a higher likelihood they'll receive their high school diploma, and a better chance to thrive for the rest of their lives.

95% of first-graders in low-income communities
who need glasses do not have them.

Vision to Learn Launches at Lovejoy

Vision To Learn launched in central Iowa in spring 2017. Since then, the program had these results: 

  • More than 20,000 eye screenings have been provided at central Iowa elementary schools

  • 927 eye exams for students who might need glasses after an initial screening

  • More than 2,000 students received two pairs of glasses, one to keep at home and one to have at school

  • Variety’s premier event of the summer, Polo on the Green raised over $19,000 to benefit children who have vision needs to improve students’ chances for success.

  • Funding from Polo on the Green will allow United Way to work with Vision To Learn Iowa to expand these efforts to serve schools where more than half of the students are on free and reduced-price lunch.

Central Iowa needs Vision To Learn:

Vision To Learn serves schools that have at least 50% of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

Nationally, 89% of kids served by Vision To Learn live in poverty and 87% are students of color.

Providing glasses to students who need them is a proven strategy for increasing reading skills. United Way of Central Iowa's goal is to expand Vision To Learn to all eligible schools.