Students who experience difficulty reading are at risk for long-term struggles with academic achievement. In fact, achieving reading proficiency by the end of third grade has been established as a key predictor of life success. While a number of factors contribute to reading problems, an undiagnosed or untreated eye condition may be possible causes.
Many children are known to have eye conditions, but do not own or use eyeglasses, or do not receive other needed vision treatments. A school-based intervention may improve access to vision care and in turn, improve reading ability.
BREDS is a joint project between the Dana Center and the Johns Hopkins School of Education. In the initial phase of the study over 300 elementary students at 12 Baltimore City Public Schools received vision and reading assessments. Baseline assessments were conducted in fall 2014-15 and follow up exams were completed in spring 2014-15 and again in 2015-16.
Children who were found to need glasses were provided two pairs of eyeglasses free of charge – one for school and one for home. Replacement eyeglasses for lost and broken pairs were also provided free of charge over the 2 year study.
Children with convergence insufficiency were prescribed school-based orthoptic treatments. Parent and teacher questionnaires were also completed to determine any barriers to school-based vision care, and ways these barriers may be overcome.
In part, this research led to the formation of the Vision for Baltimore program, aimed at becoming a replicable model for school-based delivery of eye care.