• Phone :
    • (207) 874-8100
    • Address :
    • 353 Cumberland AvePortland, Maine 04101
    • Connect with us:

Foundation Provides Free Eyeglasses to Help Students

this is content
Foundation Provides Free Eyeglasses to Help Students
Posted on 02/24/2015

Portland Public Schools’ nurses have teamed up with the Essilor Vision Foundation to provide free eyeglasses for about 100 Portland students.  The students will pick up their glasses on Thursday, March 5, at Riverton Elementary School.

The school nurses also have been working with local optometrists and opticians to provide free or reduced cost eye exams and eyeglasses for students.

“I can't overstate the importance of getting glasses for students who need them,” said Tina Veilleux, school nurse coordinator for the Portland Public Schools. “We see improvements in schoolwork as well as behavior. A student can't learn if he can't see.”

This is the fourth year that the Essilor Vision Foundation has provided free eyeglasses to Portland students.

The nonprofit foundation was established by Dallas-based Essilor of America, a manufacturer of optical lenses. The charitable foundation’s mission is to give children a brighter future by providing free eyeglasses to those who would not get them otherwise. The foundation also works to educate parents and communities about the importance of children’s vision care and the role it plays in literacy, society and the economy. Several local opticians volunteer with Essilor to provide eyeglass fittings for students.

Veilleux said the program is open to any student in the district. The nurses notify families of students who have been determined to have vision problems either through routine school screenings or observation of a possible problem by a teacher.

Also, Veilleux said, families sometimes reach out to school nurses looking for help with glasses. She said she is not aware of any eyeglass providers in Portland who accept MaineCare reimbursement for glasses. She noted that Portland Community Health is currently running a pilot program dispensing MaineCare eyeglasses for its pediatric patients, but that still leaves many families out of the loop.

“Families have to pay out of pocket for glasses, which can run upwards of $100,” she said.

“The Essilor Foundation has been able to provide glasses to a high number of students,” Veilleux said. “We have been fortunate to also partner with local providers, such as Casco Bay EyeCare, to provide some free and reduced cost exams and glasses at other times during the year.”

The nurses hold two events each year with Essilor. One is usually at Riverton in January, but the event was rescheduled to March 5 this year due to snow days. The other will be in March at Portland High School. Both are open to all students in the district. Nurses organize the events; parents do not need attend, Veilleux said.