Mobile eye care unit visits Fla. Capitol for first time, gives students free exams

By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 5, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — During its first ever visit to the Florida State Capitol, a mobile eye care unit gave free eye exams to Sabal Palm Elementary students.

Students took advantage of the Miami Lighthouse Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program's presence. Some even picked out prescription glasses.

"They were clear, but like not the small ones, but they were big!" one student said.

The focus of the program is not just on new glasses, but also preventing blindness.

"There are each year, about 1,000 children that we have to refer for medical intervention," Virginia Jacko said. "They don't need glasses; they have torn retinas, early onset of glaucoma, early onset cataracts."

Jacko is the President of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind.

Being able to see in school provides a pathway to success.

"If they can't see what they're doing, they can't do well on their work and excel in class," Anicia Robinson, the Principal of Sabal Palm said.

"It's not a privilege for a child to be able to read; it's a right," Jacko said.

Sabal Palm Elementary is a community partnership school, the first of its kind in Leon County.

"To work with core partners and work with the community members to provide services to help eliminate barriers that could impede a student's education," Robinson said.

Thirty-six students visited the mobile care unit Wednesday. That same bus will head to school Thursday to take a look at more children.

The group requested an additional $250,000 toward its budget.

Representative Ana Maria Rodriguez spearheaded the effort.

"There is a base funding of $750,000 for the program, so this would basically help cover the gap for the unmet needs for the children that are getting the treatments or the services," Rodriguez said.

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