Vision Care Critical to Student Success

August 20, 2021

“Everything was blurry for him, he would need to squint all the time just to focus on things and would have a lot of headaches,” says Nallely, mother of Raphael. Raphael and his younger brother Pedro are like many young kids – they enjoy sports, playing on the playground, participating in class and playing video games. And like thousands of Iowa students, they struggled in school due to vision problems.

While Nallely and her husband were once able to provide their children with glasses through their insurance plan, it became a challenge when they lost access to their vision insurance.

Having access to corrective lenses is an integral component in ensuring that children succeed in school. Eighty percent of learning during a child’s first 12 years is visual, and in Iowa, an estimated 20,000 children lack the glasses they need. Those children are less likely to read at grade level by third grade (a milestone critical to preventing dropout), and are more likely to fail at least one grade and engage in antisocial and/or delinquent behavior.

Recent times have exacerbated health and education gaps for students in low-income communities, especially for those who don’t receive the vision care they need.

Vision To Learn mobile clinics are an established, cost-effective and scalable solution. The mobile clinics bring free eye care and glasses directly to children in schools and underserved communities. Since its launch in 2017, the Des Moines program has visited more than 137 sites, examined 8,867 students and prescribed 7,217 of those students with glasses.

Through Vision To Learn, Raphael and Pedro are provided two free pairs of glasses annually – one pair for home and a second pair to be kept at school. On average, students who receive glasses from Vision To Learn see an 8 percent increase in their grades. Raphael now enjoys learning about animals and reading about dinosaurs, Pedro has more confidence and can spot his friends on the playground, and Nallely no longer has to shoulder the financial burden of providing her sons with glasses every year.

“It would be hard providing for them without the Vision To Learn program. It’s a wonderful program that helps families – I am so thankful,” said Nallely.

Proceeds from the 2021 Bill Warner Sr. Memorial Charity Golf Classic will go toward expanding efforts of brining eye care services and glasses directly to students in Iowa who would not otherwise receive quality vision care. If you would like to help children like Raphael and Pedro, visit