Vision for Baltimore

     v4b

We are excited to share information about Vision for Baltimore, a new program offering vision services to thousands of students across Baltimore City.

We estimate that, of the more than 60,000 pre-k through 8th grade students served by Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools), 15,000 may need glasses—but significant barriers prevent many from getting them.

That's why, between the fall of 2016 and summer of 2019, Vision for Baltimore—a partnership convened by the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) with City Schools, Johns Hopkins University (JHU), non-profit provider Vision To Learn (VTL), and Warby Parker—is screening all elementary and middle school students and offering eye exams and glasses to any student who needs them. 

Screenings are provided by BCHD. Students who do not pass the screening are able—with the consent of a parent or guardian—to get eye exams in VTL's mobile vision clinic, which comes right to schools. If students need glasses, they pick the style and color of their frames in the mobile clinic. The glasses are then manufactured by eyewear provider Warby Parker and delivered to students in their schools.

All services are available regardless of ability to pay, and there is no out-of-pocket cost. If a student is enrolled in Medicaid, their Medicaid provider may be billed.

A JHU research team is collaborating with BCHD, City Schools, and VTL to assist with the implementation of vision services and measure their impact on academic performance.

Mayor Catherine Pugh, Councilman Robert Stokes, City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises, and Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen celebrate V4B's 1000th pair of glassesA student with new glasses

Overview

  • Vision for Baltimore will roll out over the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 school years, with approximately 45 schools served each year. 
  • Maryland law already mandates that we screen students in their first year of school, 1st grade, and 8th grade.
  • With Vision for Baltimore, we're expanding these school-based screenings to all students in pre-k through 8th grade.
  • A parent or guardian needs to sign a consent form for a student who fails the screening to get an exam and glasses.
  • Exams are conducted in VTL's mobile vision van right outside each school.
  • Glasses are delivered to students in schools.

Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen with V4B students at Dr. Bernard Harris, Sr. Elementary

What you need to know

  1. A parent or guardian needs to sign a consent form for a student who fails the screening to get an exam and glasses.
  2. There is no registration process. All City Schools students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade will be able to participate in Vision for Baltimore. 
  3. The Vision for Baltimore team will contact principals with additional information before the school year in which your school will be served. 

To learn more, please email us at [email protected].

A student with new glassesVTL CEO Austin Beutner, Michael Thomas of City Schools, and Ray Lewis with a student at Hampstead Hill Academy

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Questions

What is Vision for Baltimore?

Vision for Baltimore—a partnership convened by the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) with Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools), Johns Hopkins University (JHU), non-profit provider Vision To Learn (VTL), and Warby Parker—is a city-wide initiative offering vision care to City Schools students.

Between the fall of 2016 and summer of 2019, BCHD is providing school-based vision screenings to all students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.

Students who do not pass the vision screening are able—with the consent of a parent or guardian—to get eye exams in a mobile vision clinic that comes right to schools. The clinic is operated by VTL. If students need glasses, they pick the style and color of their frames in the mobile clinic. The glasses are then manufactured by eyewear provider Warby Parker and delivered to students in their schools.

All services are available regardless of ability to pay, and there is no out-of-pocket cost. If a student is enrolled in Medicaid, their Medicaid provider may be billed.

A JHU research team is collaborating with BCHD, City Schools, and VTL to assist with the implementation of vision services and measure their impact on academic performance.

 

How important is eye care?

Eye care is extremely important. Poor eyesight can lead to academic, social, and behavioral problems for children.

Being able to see the board in the classroom and the books on their desks makes school more fun and less stressful for kids. Improved vision has other benefits too:

  • Improved hand-eye coordination;
  • More interest in and comfort with reading;
  • Fewer headaches, eye strain and other distractions; and
  • Better grades and behavior at school.

 

What is the difference between a vision screening and an eye exam?

The vision screening administered by BCHD is more basic than an eye exam. Screenings usually involve a chart with letters of different sizes, which students are asked to read. BCHD screenings test students’ visual acuity, 3-D vision, eye alignment, and refractive error.

Students who do not pass the vision screening are able—with a signed consent form—to receive an eye exam in VTL’s mobile clinic. The eye exam determines how well a child sees, whether they need glasses, and the overall health of their eyes.

The VTL mobile clinic at Dr. Bernard Harris, Sr. Elementary

Questions from Teachers, Administrators, and Staff

Does my school need to apply to participate in Vision for Baltimore?

No application or enrollment process is required. Vision for Baltimore will visit all City Schools elementary and middle schools between the fall of 2016 and summer of 2019—about forty to forty-five schools per year.

Parents do, however, need to sign a consent form in order for their child to receive their follow-up exam in VTL’s mobile vision clinic.

 

What year will my school be enrolled in the program?

The following schools will be served in year 1 (2016-2017):

  • Alexander Hamilton Elementary
  • Arlington Elementary/Middle
  • Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys
  • Banneker Blake Academy for Arts and Sciences
  • Barclay Elementary/Middle
  • Bay-Brook Elementary/Middle
  • Charles Carroll Barrister
  • City Neighbors Charter
  • Coldstream Park Elementary/Middle
  • Collington Square Elementary/Middle
  • Creative City Public Charter
  • Cross Country Elementary/Middle
  • Dallas F. Nicholas, Sr. Elementary
  • Dickey Hill Elementary/Middle
  • Dr. Bernard Harris, Sr. Elementary
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary/Middle
  • Dr. Nathan A. Pitts-Ashburton Elementary/Middle
  • Fallstaff Elementary/Middle
  • Federal Hill Preparatory
  • Garrett Heights Elementary/Middle
  • Govans Elementary
  • Graceland Park/O'Donnell Heights Elementary/Middle
  • Hampstead Hill Academy
  • Harford Heights Elementary/Middle
  • Highlandtown Elementary/Middle #215
  • Holabird Elementary/Middle
  • James Mosher Elementary
  • John Eager Howard Elementary
  • Johnston Square Elementary
  • Lakewood Elementary
  • Leith Walk Elementary/Middle
  • Lois T. Murray Elementary/Middle
  • Mary E. Rodman Elementary
  • Medfield Heights Elementary
  • Monarch Academy Public Charter
  • Moravia Park Elementary
  • New Song Academy
  • Roots and Branches School
  • Sharp-Leadenhall Elementary
  • Southwest Baltimore Charter
  • Tench Tilghman Elementary
  • The Crossroads School
  • The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary
  • Violetville Elementary/Middle
  • Waverly Elementary/Middle
  • William Paca Elementary
  • Woodhome Elementary/Middle

The following schools will be served in year 2 (2017-2018):

  • Abbottston Elementary
  • Afya Public Charter
  • Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women
  • Baltimore Montessori Public Charter
  • Beechfield Elementary/Middle
  • Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy West
  • Brehms Lane Public Charter
  • Calverton Elementary/Middle
  • City Springs Elementary/Middle
  • ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School
  • Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson Elementary/Middle
  • Edgecombe Circle Elementary
  • Edgewood Elementary
  • Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School
  • Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary
  • Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle
  • Franklin Square Elementary/Middle
  • Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology
  • Furman Templeton Preparatory Academy
  • Gardenville Elementary
  • George Washington Elementary
  • Gilmor Elementary
  • Grove Park Elementary/Middle
  • Hampden Elementary/Middle
  • Hazelwood Elementary/Middle
  • Hilton Elementary
  • John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle
  • KASA (Knowledge and Success Academy)
  • KIPP Harmony Academy
  • Lakeland Elementary/Middle
  • Liberty Elementary
  • Lockerman Bundy Elementary
  • Maree G. Farring Elementary/Middle
  • Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle
  • Matthew A. Henson Elementary
  • Midtown Academy
  • NACA Freedom and Democracy
  • New Hope Academy
  • North Bend Elementary/Middle
  • Pimlico Elementary/Middle
  • Rosemont Elementary/Middle
  • Sinclair Lane Elementary
  • Stadium School
  • Steuart Hill Academic Academy
  • The Mount Washington School
  • Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle
  • Vanguard Collegiate Middle
  • Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle
  • Westport Academy
  • Wolfe Street Academy

​The following schools will be served in year 3 (2018-2019):

  • Academy for College and Career Exploration
  • Armistead Gardens Elementary/Middle
  • Arundel Elementary/Middle
  • Baltimore Design School
  • Baltimore International Academy
  • Belmont Elementary
  • Booker T. Washington Middle
  • Callaway Elementary
  • Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary
  • Cecil Elementary
  • Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle
  • City Neighbors Hamilton
  • Commodore John Rogers Elementary/Middle
  • Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle
  • Eager Street Academy
  • Elementary/Middle Alternative Program
  • Empowerment Academy
  • Fort Worthington Elementary
  • Frederick Elementary
  • Furley Elementary
  • Glenmount Elementary/Middle
  • Green Street Academy
  • Guilford Elementary/Middle
  • Gwynns Falls Elementary
  • Hamilton Elementary/Middle
  • Harlem Park Elementary/Middle
  • Heritage Early Learning Center
  • Highlandtown Elementary/Middle #237
  • James McHenry Elementary/Middle
  • Lillie May Carroll Jackson School
  • Lyndhurst Elementary
  • Mary Ann Winterling Elementary at Bentalou
  • Montebello Elementary/Middle
  • Morrell Park Elementary/Middle
  • Mount Royal Elementary/Middle
  • National Academy Foundation
  • New Era Academy
  • Northwood Appold Community Academy
  • Northwood Elementary
  • Patterson Park Public Charter
  • Robert W. Coleman Elementary
  • Rognel Heights Elementary/Middle
  • Roland Park Elementary/Middle
  • Sarah M. Roach Elementary
  • The Green School of Baltimore
  • Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle
  • Tunbridge Public Charter
  • William Pinderhughes Elementary/Middle
  • Windsor Hills Elementary/Middle
  • Yorkwood Elementary

If your school serves students in grades pre-K through 8 but is not listed here, or for any other questions, please contact the Vision for Baltimore Program Administrator at [email protected].

 

Will students need to miss part of the school day in order to participate in the BCHD vision screenings and the VTL eye exams?

Yes. Vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses fittings will be conducted during the school day. Students should be occupied for no more than 30 minutes for their vision screening; no more than 30 minutes for their eye exam; and no more than 20 minutes for the fitting of their glasses.

The Vision for Baltimore Program Administrator will work with your school to pick dates for screening visits that minimize disruption, and Vision To Learn will provide advance notice of the dates during which they will visit to provide exams and dispense glasses.

 

Where will BCHD vision screenings take place?

BCHD vision screenings will take place at a location designated by your school’s administrative staff. 

 

Over how many days will the vision screenings take place?

Approximately 4 to 10 days, depending on the size of your school.

 

Are the vision screenings the same in each grade?

Younger children—students in pre-k, kindergarten, and 1st grade—are screened in a different way than older children—students in 2nd grade and above. Only younger children, for example, are screened for 3-D vision, where they are asked to identify a raised letter on a special demonstration card.

 

When will the VTL mobile clinic visit our school to provide exams?

The VTL mobile clinic will visit your school several weeks to a few months after the BCHD vision screenings. The timing depends, in part, on how quickly students return consent forms signed by a guardian.  

VTL’s Regional Director will reach out to your school to discuss the scheduling of the exam days.

 

For how many days will the VTL mobile clinic be conducting eye exams at our school?

This depends on the number of students at your school who fail the BCHD vision screening and return a consent form signed by a parent or guardian. The VTL team can examine up to about 30 students per day. VTL may need to visit your school on multiple non-consecutive days.

 

Who can be a school liaison? What are their responsibilities?

Vision for Baltimore asks each principal to identify a school liaison before the school year in which their school is served. The school liaison may be any staff member at the school who does not work in the health suite. The school liaison will be the primary contact for all communications regarding Vision for Baltimore. They will help to schedule screening and exam days, provide support on those days, distribute information about the program, and collect consent forms.

If you are a principal and would like to change your school’s liaison, please contact the Vision for Baltimore Program Administrator at [email protected] or 410-545-0140.

 

How will glasses be distributed to students?

A VTL staff optician will visit your school to dispense the glasses and fit them for each student. Dispensing will take place in a space designated by your school’s administrative staff.

 

What happens if a student breaks or loses their glasses?

If a student breaks or loses their glasses, please contact BCHD’s Vision for Baltimore Program Administrator at [email protected] or 410-545-0140 to discuss options for replacement.

 

How can we help to ensure that this program runs smoothly?

Ensuring that your school's staff, parents, and students are aware of this program; reminding guardians of referred students to return signed consent forms; and encouraging your students to wear and take care of their glasses are all critical to the success of this program. Additionally, working with VTL staff to prepare for eye exam and dispensing visits will help VTL serve students efficiently.

Many students who need glasses have not been able to get them because they did not return a signed consent form. We need your help ensuring that parents know the forms are coming home and encouraging parents to return them.

 

Questions from Parents and Guardians

Do I need to sign up for the Vision for Baltimore program?

No. Between the fall of 2016 and spring of 2019, Vision for Baltimore will visit all Baltimore City Public Schools with pre-k through 8th grade students. You do not need to sign up for your child to receive a BCHD vision screening.

If the vision screening shows that your child needs an eye exam, however, you will need to return a signed consent form in order for them to receive an exam and, if needed, glasses.  

 

Will I pay for my child’s eye exam or eyeglasses?

No. There are no out-of-pocket costs associated with Vision for Baltimore; you do not need to pay for any part of the program. All students who return a signed consent form are served, including those without insurance.

If you have Medicaid coverage, your Medicaid provider may be billed for the cost of the eye exam.

Eyeglasses are currently donated by Warby Parker and provided to students at no cost.

 

Does my child need insurance to participate?

No. Every child may participate regardless of whether they have insurance coverage.

If your child is enrolled in Medicaid, your Medicaid provider may be billed.

 

When and where will the BCHD vision screening occur?

BCHD vision screenings take place throughout the school year. Your child’s school will send a letter home approximately two weeks before the screenings.

Screenings will take place at your child’s school in a location chosen by the school’s administrative staff.

 

When and where will the VTL eye exam occur?

The VTL mobile clinic will visit your school several weeks to several months after the BCHD vision screenings. The timing depends, in part, on how quickly students return consent forms signed by a guardian.

The mobile clinic will park right outside your child’s school.

 

How do I book my child's appointment with the mobile clinic?

You do not need to book an appointment.

If your child does not pass the BCHD vision screening, your child will be sent home with a consent form that needs to be filled out and signed by a guardian. Once the completed and signed form is returned, your child will be able to receive an exam in the VTL mobile clinic when it visits your child’s school.

 

I do not want my child to participate in Vision for Baltimore. What do I do?

The state requires that BCHD provide annual screenings to all students in their first year of school (pre-k or kindergarten), 1st grade, and 8th grade. When Vision for Baltimore visits a school, BCHD screens all other elementary and middle school students in that school. If you do not want your child to be screened, please notify your school nurse in writing.

If your child does not pass their vision screening, they will not receive an exam and glasses unless you return a signed consent form. If you do not want your child to receive an exam and glasses from Vision for Baltimore, simply do not return a signed form. If you choose not to have your child participate, it is very important to seek eye care elsewhere: poor eyesight can lead to academic, social, and behavioral problems for children.

 

I just found out your program isn't coming to my school this year. Can my child still get an eye exam?

Vision To Learn can only offer eye exams to students in the schools that Vision for Baltimore is visiting that year. If Vision for Baltimore is not serving your school this year and you would like your child to have an eye exam, we recommend that you take them to a local provider.

Additionally, while Vision for Baltimore is only visiting one third of elementary and middle schools per year, BCHD will continue to provide state-mandated annual screenings to all students in their first year of school, 1st grade, and 8th grade. If your child does not pass a screening, you will be provided information about how to follow up with a local eye care provider.

 

My child was screened but has moved schools. Will my child still be able to get an eye exam from Vision for Baltimore?

Please contact the Vision for Baltimore Program Administrator at [email protected] or 410-545-0140 with details of your situation to discuss options for serving your child.

 

Will my child receive dilating eye drops?

No, VTL’s eye exams do not include eye drops.

If your child needs the kind of exam that uses dilating eye drops—or other follow-up vision care—they will be referred to an eye care provider. If that happens, a referral form will be sent home with your child, and one of VTL’s eye doctors will call you to explain the referral.

 

Are there risks or discomfort associated with an eye exam?

No. VTL’s eye exams are painless, safe, and non-invasive.

 

Will I learn the results of my child’s eye exam?

Yes. After the eye exam in VTL’s mobile clinic, your child’s results will be sent home to you.

 

Will my child be required to attend follow-up eye examinations after the VTL eye exam?

No. However, your child may be referred to another eye care provider if they require care that cannot be provided in VTL’s mobile clinic.

 

What happens if my child is referred for further care after their VTL eye exam?

If your child requires further care that cannot be provided in the VTL mobile clinic and/or if VTL’s eye doctor is unable to determine your child’s prescription, your child will be referred to another eye care provider. If that happens, a referral form will be sent home with your child, and one of VTL’s eye doctors will call you to explain the referral.

If you are enrolled in Medicaid, HealthCare Access Maryland will ask your Managed Care Organization to assist you in scheduling follow-up care.

 

Do I need to attend the vision screening and/or eye exam with my child?

No. Parents are not required or expected to be present during the vision screening or eye exam.

 

When will my child receive their eyeglasses?

Glasses will be delivered to your child’s school several weeks after the eye exam. Your child will be called to a designated space located within the school to pick up their glasses and have them fitted by an optician. Students will also receive an eyeglasses case, which will include information about when they need to wear their eyeglasses.

 

Will my child receive prescription sunglasses?

No, VTL does not provide prescription sunglasses.

 

Who do I contact if my child loses or breaks their glasses?

Please contact the Vision for Baltimore Program Administrator at [email protected] or 410-545-0140.

 

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