Thousands of children missing eye care, after mobile vision clinic is totaled in accident

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - A local charity fixing vision problems for thousands of area school children is in a bind. The mobile vision clinic used by the Eye Care Charity of Mid-America was recently involved in an accident. The vehicle was not owned by the charity and was totaled.  Eye Care Charity of Mid-America will need to raise enough money to purchase a new specially equipped vehicle if it will continue to provide mobile services.

More than 50 schools are currently waiting for a visit from the mobile vision clinic.  It allows students to walk into a vehicle for an eye exam, pick out frames and then wait about 20 minutes for their new pair of glasses.

“It’s astounding the impact a pair of glasses can have on a child,” said Director of Resource Development Kate McKearn.  “We have kids come on board who may be considered problem kids or you know they have low grades, bad behavior and they come on board and for the first time realize that hey, this wasn’t actually my fault.  I really, legitimately just can’t see and all I need is a pair of glasses.”

“If they can’t see, they can’t learn,” said Christian Bertel, coordinator of health services for the Hazelwood School District.

She hopes the mobile vision clinic can be replaces as soon as possible.  She said nurses from schools in the district call her on nearly a daily basis asking, “Is the van ready yet?”

McKearn encourages anyone wanting to help to visit the charity’s website.

She hopes the charity can raise enough money to keep the mobile vision clinic going because feedback indicates the glasses are helping students succeed.

“Their self-esteem has dramatically improved.  They’re class participation has dramatically improved and their grades have dramatically improved, “said McKearn.  “So, we know that it’s making an impact.”

McKearn said Eye Care Charity of Mid-America would also welcome sponsorships to help pay for a new vehicle.  She says it might be possible to showcase a business’s name on a new mobile vision clinic if enough money is raised to buy one.