May 15, 2023

No-cost eye exams offered for students who do not pass third grade reading assessments

Therese Apel

Photo by nrd on Unsplash

The Mississippi Vision Foundation and the Mississippi Optometric Association want to remind parents of no-cost eye exams being offered to third graders who do not pass the state reading assessment test and do not have insurance. The exams are being offered beginning May 1 through July 31.

According to Dr. Josh Patrick, MVF President, “undetected vision problems can significantly impact a child’s academic performance. Children with poor vision may have difficulty reading, writing, and focusing on schoolwork.”

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.

“Through this program, our hope is to identify those students with poor vision and correct it, or to eliminate poor vision as a possible reason for not passing the test so alternative solutions can be pursued,” said Dr. Stacie Moore, MOA President.

Statistics indicate 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 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.

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