Eye exams offered at no cost for Mississippi students who do not pass third grade reading assessment

Published 9:56 am Monday, April 3, 2023

For the seventh year, the Mississippi Optometric Association (MOA) and the Mississippi Vision Foundation (MVF) will provide eye exams at no-cost to third graders who did not pass the state reading assessment test and do not have insurance. The exams are offered beginning May 1 through July 31.

“Undetected vision problems can significantly impact a child’s academic performance. Children with poor vision may have difficulty reading, writing, and focusing on schoolwork. One of the MVF’s core objectives is to help all Mississippians ‘see a brighter future’ and by promoting this program, we hope to see the next generation excel academically and make a positive impact on society, said Dr. Josh Patrick, MVF President.

The first round of tests is scheduled for April 10 through 21. Students who do not pass the assessment on their first attempt have two opportunities to retest. In 2022, 26.1 percent of the state’s third graders did not pass the literacy promotion test. Studies show that children who struggle to read are more likely to leave school without graduating; ultimately contributing to the poverty rates in our state.

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“Good vision and ocular health are vital to learning. As Mississippi optometrists, we are committed to identifying the visual needs of students to help establish their academic success,” said Dr. Stacie Moore, MOA President.

Statistics show that 25 percent of all school age children have vision problems, and more than 80 percent of those students do not get the help they need. Results of the MOA and MVF Third Grade Eye Exam program (aimed at students who did not pass the third grade reading assessment) reveal that 88 percent of the students who took advantage of the eye exams were found to need some form of visual intervention.

For students who are covered through private insurance, applicable co-pays may apply due to laws that require the doctor to collect this amount. All children, regardless of their family’s ability to pay, will be seen by ODs participating in the program. The MVF, working with industry partners, will cover the costs for any student who needs an exam and is not covered through insurance. Additionally, industry partners are working with Mississippi ODs to provide glasses to any student whose eye exam reveals the need for corrective lenses.

To locate a participating optometrist, parents of eligible third graders should go to www.msvisionfoundation.org  or call 601.572.0845. When making the appointment, parents should tell the receptionist they are scheduling the third grade eye appointment. They should bring the letter notifying them that their child did not pass the assessment test with them to the appointment.