$1 million donation given to Cleveland Clinic's Vision First program – WKYC.com

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CLEVELAND — Editor’s note: Video at the top of this story was originally published in an unrelated story on Sept. 16, 2021.
The Cleveland Clinic’s Vision First program is getting a financial boost in the form of a $1 million donation from aerospace company TransDigm Group, which was announced Wednesday morning.
Vision First is a mobile optometry van that travels across Northeast Ohio, providing elementary schools with comprehensive vision screenings and eye examinations.
The van was first established in 2002, when Elias Traboulsi, M.D., head of pediatric ophthalmology at Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute, collaborated with the Cleveland Municipal School District. Over time, the program has expanded to include five additional school districts: Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Lakewood, Maple Heights and Warrensville Heights.
Officials say the TransDigm Group’s teamwork with the Cleveland Clinic aims to put at-risk children on a path to having overall better vision.
“We are honored to support the Vision First program and its efforts to expand equitable access to eye-care services in the community,” said Kevin Stein, president and CEO of TransDigm Group. “When eye diseases are detected early, we can help prevent vision loss and make a meaningful difference in the lives of children.”
The donation will be spread out across a five-year investment that will reach those in underserved communities.
According to the American Optometric Association, nearly one in four American school-aged children have an unknown and untreated vision problem.
“One of the single most important investments that one can make is in the health and future of our children,” said Dr. Traboulsi. “This gift from the TransDigm Group will make an immeasurable impact in providing screenings to help combat vision impairment in children with limited access to these vital services.”
In 2020, Cleveland Clinic purchased a new customized van that housed two exam rooms after a large donation from Jim and Jeannie Chaney.
Despite the American Academy of Ophthalmology encouraging those older than three to receive vision screenings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says less than 15 percent of all preschoolers have their vision checked.
During the academic year, the Vision First van visits more than 90 schools. Students who do not pass the vision screening will receive a complete eye examination, prescriptions and referrals to local pediatric ophthalmologists for advanced care.
On the day of a student’s exam, if glasses are needed, they can choose their frames for free courtesy of the eyewear brand Revo’s donations.
Since Vision First began, they have performed more than 97,000 eye exams and have provided 7,500 eyeglasses to children in need.
14 percent of the children screened have been diagnosed with a vision problem and were treated for it during the program’s tenure.
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