Giving Children the Vision to Succeed

The ChildSight® program provides vision screening and free prescription eyewear to thousands of New Haven school children every year.

ChildSight® provides licensed optometrists to measure children for corrective lenses. Photo credit: Helen Keller International.

If not for the ChildSight® program, thousands of school-aged children would struggle to see the words on the blackboard or in their books. The national program, working in 32 New Haven public schools, performs vision tests and delivers prescription eyewear to children in need.

"Twenty percent of kids fail their initial screening and need glasses," says ChildSight® U.S Director Meghan Lynch. "Education is the pathway to lifting oneself up and being successful and having a good quality of life. And vision problems are one of the biggest obstacles to comprehension and academic performance."

Children with uncorrected vision problems are three times more likely to fail at least one grade, putting their future economic mobility and quality of life at risk. For many low-income children, however, eyeglasses and visits to an eye doctor are something their families cannot afford.

ChildSight®, a program of Helen Keller International, tackles this problem by bringing comprehensive vision services directly to the schools. Working in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th grades, ChildSight® provides initial vision screening and refraction assessments and makes ophthalmic referrals for children who need more complete eye exams. For children who need glasses, a licensed optometrist returns to provide corrective prescriptions. The kids pick out their frames from an assortment of options.

"Our frames are stylish yet sturdy," says Lynch. "The hope is that we have happy kids. Because if they like their frames, they are more likely to wear them."

ChildSight® has been working in New Haven for 17 years. It annually screens about 5,000 New Haven students and provides about 1,000 of these students with free prescriptions.

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has long been a core funder of ChildSight® in New Haven. In 2016, it awarded a three-year $283,000 grant made possible by the Jennie C. Bronson Fund and Albert Zunder Fund, whose donors expressed their wish to support healthy vision and prevent blindness.

For more information about Helen Keller International, visit its profile on

Did you know?

Helen Keller International was founded in 1915 with Helen Keller as a co-founder and original board member. It now works in 21 countries to prevent blindness and malnutrition.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.