The Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program will provide free examinations by licensed optometrists in fully equipped mobile optometric units to students facing inequitable access to care. These examinations are being funded by Sight for Kids, a co-founded program by Johnson & Johnson Vision and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).
This grant will support quality, comprehensive eye health services and treatment for students in low-income and underserved communities across Miami-Dade, Broward, St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties. Sight for Kids’ goal is for Lions volunteers in collaboration with Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program to provide vision screenings to 20,000 children across South Florida in its first year. Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program will provide no-cost eye exams and glasses to students with parental consent who fail the vision screenings. The exams will be administered in full compliance with COVID-19 safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Optometric Association.
The Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program is administered by Miami Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired in collaboration with a network of more than 1,000 optometrists throughout the state. Five Heiken Program mobile eye-care units take primary eye care directly to Florida’s school children. Each year, more than 1,000 schools from Tallahassee to Key West refer underserved children, so that the Heiken Program can provide free dilated eye examinations and prescription glasses to needy children whose families cannot afford these services.
Of 10,349 low-income school children receiving comprehensive eye exams during the 2019-2020 school year, 320 were referred for medical intervention for retinal tears, glaucoma and other eye abnormalities. Approximately 77 percent of all children examined require and receive prescription eyeglasses, confirming the importance of a follow-up eye exam after a student fails the state-mandated vision screening.