Vinik Foundation Pledges $50K To Champion Kids Vision Health – Patch.com

TAMPA, FL — When children with uncorrected vision problems begin school, they experience serious learning disadvantages that can have a lifelong impact, yet only 40 percent of children entering kindergarten have received testing for vision issues.
The Vinik Family Foundation has donated $50,000 to the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research Foundation to support its Vision Health Program, a new initiative to make vision care accessible for Head Start students attending Title I schools in Hillsborough County.

“When we heard the impact that undetected eye diseases can have on a child’s academic and life success, we were moved to do something about it,” said Penny Vinik, co-founder and director of the Vinik Family Foundation. “We love our Tampa Bay community, and these children are our future; they deserve every chance of success without barriers like preventable blindness.”
As the world’s largest nonprofit eye bank and ocular research center, Lions Eye Institute is leading the worldwide fight against blinding eye disease from its headquarters in Tampa Bay. The foundation’s Vision Health Program uses the latest technologies to help identify any vision issues in children, such as amblyopia and strabismus, which can cause permanent blindness if not identified by the age of 8.
“This gift from the Vinik Family Foundation will have a profound impact on the lives of 3- and 4-year-old children living with undiagnosed vision issues,” said JL Bielon, executive director of the Lions Eye Institute Foundation. “Undiagnosed vision issues can be associated with poor academic performance, juvenile incarceration, and behavioral issues, and oftentimes are easily treated.”
Since 1997 the Vinik Family Foundation has donated over $75 million to nonprofits working in the areas of education, human services, healthcare and the arts.
The Lions Eye Institute Foundation’s Vision Health Program launched in October 2020. To date, the program has conducted screenings for 436 children in 39 classrooms across 28 schools in Hillsborough County – all at no cost to the students.

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