Optometrist Dr. Ken Lay with student Marissa Moran.
Momentum Learning student Marissa Moran hasn’t been to an eye doctor in a few years, and she didn’t like wearing the prescription glasses she had as a young child.
Now, at 18, Marissa has a greater appreciation for clear vision and was excited to receive an eye exam Wednesday thanks to an event organized by Momentum Learning school nurse Ellyson Slater-Kobetsky and online optical retailer Eyeconic.
“It feels much clearer. It’s not what I expected,” said Marissa, a North County Technology and Science Blended Academy senior. She was trying out her new prescription glasses in stylish Nike frames, just about an hour after her exam. “I think it will help me focus more and get fewer migraines, which make me miss school.”
Eyeconic brought the VSP Global Eyes of Hope mobile eye-care clinic to the North County Regional Education Center (NCREC) in San Marcos. The mobile clinic is a 45-foot doctor’s office on wheels that not only provides exam space, but has the equipment needed to fill the prescriptions so the glasses can be made onsite. Exams also took place in a NCREC office. Nearly 50 students received comprehensive eye exams and much-needed prescription glasses. Eyeconic also offered free sunglasses to each student. Four local optometrists donated their time and expertise for the exams. Frames were donated by Eyeconic sister company Marchon, and included several top brands.
The students came from several of the San Diego County Office of Education’s Momentum Learning schools: Breaking Cycles San Marcos, Escondido Blended Community School, Innovations Academy of Empowerment, North County Tech Academy, and Second Chance Blended Community School. An additional dozen or so students will get eye exams Thursday at Bayside Blended Community School, and 25 students are scheduled for exams Friday at East County Blended Community School.
Slater-Kobetsky screens the eyesight of all Momentum Learning students, and typically can provide them with certificates for free services with any VSP Vision Care provider. That doesn’t mean the students can get transportation to an optometry appointment, even if it’s free.
“Once I found out they had this mobile clinic, I knew it would be an awesome opportunity for our students,” she said. “This is during school hours at our site, with our transportation. And most of the students get glasses the same day. VSP and Eyeconic are really are going above and beyond.”
Slater-Kobetsky selected the students for the exams based on the vision screenings she conducted; they either failed the vision exam or showed symptoms of eye strain. She said screenings that revealed extremely low vision for some students pushed her to organize the mobile clinic event.
“Some students have never been to an eye doctor, never had glasses,” Slater-Kobetsky said. “They don’t even know what they’re not seeing.”
Momentum Learning, Eyeconic, and the optometrists all agree that supporting a student’s health will give them a boost in the classroom.
“Momentum Learning is committed to meeting all of the needs of our students in any way we can,” said Valentin Escanuela, one of Momentum Learning’s vice principals. “In partnership with VSP, many of our students are getting a service they would not otherwise have. Thanks to this service, vision will no longer be an obstacle for our students’ learning.”
Added Eyeconic’s Julie Berge: “There’s a medical need, but once you put those glasses on, it’s an instant confidence boost, too.”