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Vision First Program

Raised toward our $10,000 Goal
37 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on January 31, at 01:31 PM EST
Project Owners

Vision First Program

Any amount is welcome!

Program Overview

Vision First provides eye examinations for every 4- to 6-year-old enrolled in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The centerpiece of the program is a customized van with two examination spaces!

The van makes stops at all elementary schools in the Cleveland school district and can be found at one of these schools each day during the school year.

Staffed by an ophthalmic technician, the Vision First van is equipped to provide screenings for a variety of eye diseases and conditions.  For children that fail this initial screening, an optometrist is available to perform complete ocular examinations, write prescriptions for those who require corrective lenses, and provide referrals to local pediatric ophthalmologists for further care.

Based on studies, up to 13.8% of the children tested may be diagnosed with vision ailment.  The majority will simply require eyeglasses to correct the problem. 

Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is the most common cause of vision problems in children. Left untreated, it can lead to vision loss in adults, but the condition is completely reversible when it’s caught early in childhood.

It is estimated that only 14 percent of all children under the age of six undergo an eye examination.  With these staggeringly low statistics, it is anticipated that a high percentage of children will have vision problems detected for the first time by our Vision First program since all Cleveland school children are provided the opportunity to receive an eye exam free of charge. 

Vision First Accomplishments

Through Vision First, the Cole Eye Institute has set the benchmark in vision screenings in Ohio and nationally since this is the first and most comprehensive program of its type.  Several cities have replicated the program including Philadelphia and Baltimore.  Screening over 5,000 children annually, and more than 70,000 children over the past thirteen years, there is an immediate and future impact on the lives of the children, families, the county and the state of Ohio.

Almost 15% of students receiving eye exams are in need of additional attention to correct their vision, allowing them to become better students and future leaders.  

Vision First Partners

Vision First was launched in 2002 through collaborative efforts of the Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the Federation for Community Planning, the Cleveland Initiative for Education and through seed funding from the Cleveland Foundation, the Board of County Commissioners, the Mt. Sinai Foundation, Forest City Foundation and Ohio Savings Bank. 

In 2006, Cole Eye Institute entered into a multi-year partnership with Cleveland Browns Foundation to support the cost of the program and the eyeglasses provided to the students identified with vision impairment.  The Browns Foundation continued supporting the program by covering the eyeglasses for students in need of corrected vision through the end of the 2014 school year.  A new partnership with Kohl’s Cares for Kids was launched in 2013 to support the vision van traveling to schools to conduct child vision screenings.  Cole Eye Institute manages the day to day operations of the Vision First program and its partners jointly promote the achievements of the initiative.




Choose a giving level



Pay for one child's comprehensive eye exam



Give a child his or her first pair of eyeglasses


Screening and Eyeglasses

Pay for the total combined cost of a comprehensive eye exam and one pair of eye glasses for a child in need


Screening + Eyeglasses for 2

This amount will pay for two children to have a comprehensive eye exam and their first pair of glasses.