Kids Day returns at Eyeglass Factory
December 17, 2015 12:00 AM
Local children can receive free eye exams and glasses during Kids Day at the Santa Barbara Eyeglass Factory, which will return for its 20th year from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
The purpose, explained Eyeglass Factory owner Rick Feldman, is to help the kids of uninsured families do better in school by giving them the ability to see more clearly.
“We’re going to make sure that these kids are going to be able to achieve their full potential,” Mr. Feldman said, noting that many children with poor vision tend to be labeled as having behavioral issues in school.
Doctors Barry Mast and Christian Wilson will examine children’s eyesight, as well as doctors from Surgical Eye Expeditions International, an organization that cosponsors the event and helps repair vision worldwide.
With an eyeglass laboratory on the premises, children can get their prescription from the doctor and walk away with a new pair of glasses all in the same day.
“It’s a huge impact,” said Lara Rich, the vision care program coordinator for SEE. “There’s a lot of individuals who are uninsured in the community, even with the new forms of insurance coming around, a lot of them are lacking in vision care.”
Kids as old as 15 who have never had glasses before regularly come into SEE’s clinics unable to see large letters on a board 10 feet away from them, explained Ms. Rich.
“You can just imagine being in school and trying to see the board. A lot of times it leads to what people think of as learning disabilities or acting out in school or the frustration of just not being able to see something when you’re there in your lesson,” she said.
While sight is the main focus of the event, other resources supporting kids’ health will be available, including hearing exams, nutrition counseling and diabetes screenings.
The Clinic on Wheels will be there to enroll kids in the Gateway Health Insurance program and, for the first time at this event, provide dental care.
Helping kids reach their full potential doesn’t stop there. The Waterford Project will take the time to come out to the event and help local children learn English.
“They work with the preschool kids who speak only Spanish to get them a start on English so that when they get in school, they won’t fall behind the kids who have had a bilingual education,” Mr. Feldman said.
The event isn’t all waiting in line for the doctor. Instead, it’s a “party atmosphere” where “everyone has a good time,” Mr. Feldman said. Santa Claus will ride in on a Santa Barbara County Fire Department truck. There will also be a clown, face painting, coloring books and refreshments to keep children happy as they wait.
This event is part of the Right to Sight program, founded and maintained by the Eyeglass Factory; it’s a year-round collaboration with SEE and several other local nonprofit organizations that screen their clients and refer them to the Eyeglass Factory and SEE.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community that we love so much,” Mr. Feldman said.