Vision in young children represents a profound intersection between healthy development, learning, and lifelong success. Healthy vision is important for young children as they explore their world, make connections with their family and caregivers, and learn to read. Vision impairment can negatively affect academic achievement, attaining developmental milestones, reading readiness, social relationships, graduation rates, and opportunities for future success. Disparities in access to, and use of, eye care among minority populations have been exacerbated during the pandemic because children have missed well-child visits, vision screenings were suspended when schools and child care centers closed, and fewer visited the eye doctor.
What is the Zenni Scholarship to Advance Children’s Vision program?
The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness is launching the Zenni Scholarship to Advance Children’s Vision in partnership with Zenni Eyewear. This new program supports vision screening and access to eye care for populations who are underserved across the U.S. through:
- A limited number of full scholarships for our Children’s Vision Screening Certification Course (a value of $175) — a 3-year, nationally recognized certificate based on current national guidelines, best practices, and evidence-based vision screening tools and procedures for preschool and school-age children, and 5 contact hours for professional development.
- Access to vouchers for the full cost of Zenni eyeglasses for children served by scholarship recipients who do not otherwise have public or private insurance to cover the cost of new or replacement eyeglasses.
Why should I enroll in the course?
The course provides participants with a 3-year, nationally recognized certificate based on current national guidelines, best practices, and evidence-based vision screening tools and procedures for preschool and school-age children, and 5 contact hours for professional development. The course includes self-paced modules and a personalized virtual skills assessment with mentoring and tips.
You will learn:
- signs of possible vision disorders;
- an overview of vision disorders in the target age group;
- an explanation of age-appropriate, Prevent Blindness-approved vision screening tools;
- how to set up the vision screening environment;
- how to use the vision screening tools;
- referral protocols; and
- suggestions for improved follow-up on referrals for eye examination.
Am I eligible for a scholarship?
The course is appropriate for professionals working in early care and education programs, schools, public health, home visiting, and primary healthcare settings (including community health centers, community health workers, medical assistants, and others). Note that Organizations may purchase additional spots in the course to supplement the scholarship recipient(s) to ensure all vision screeners in an organization or school are trained and certified to provide consistent screening approaches.
Please note that we are unable to provide scholarships in states with Prevent Blindness Affiliates: TX, WI, IA, GA, NC, and OH. These affiliates offer courses that are state-specific and we encourage you to reach out directly to those organizations. Please note also that some states require a state-specific children’s vision screening training course. We cannot offer scholarships for those programs. If you have questions about this information specifically, please email Donna Fishman at [email protected].
The program is available to individuals who serve children ages 3 years through high school who are considered at increased risk of having vision disorders and have poor access to vision screening and eye care, specifically children from:
- communities and families with low incomes,
- under-served minority populations,
- underinsured or underinsured families,
- rural populations,
- inner-city urban populations,
- immigrant and refugee populations,
- from non-English speaking homes, and
- American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Applications will be considered as they are submitted.
What are my responsibilities as a scholarship recipient?
The course takes 3 to 5 hours to complete, depending on the learner. You must complete the course in 3 months. Upon completion of the online modules, you will register for an individualized virtual skills assessment and mentoring session with NCCVEH staff. Once you receive the certification and begin performing vision screening, you may request vouchers for Zenni eyeglasses for students who are prescribed glasses by an eyecare provider (a link to the Voucher Request form will be emailed to individuals completing the certification course). Vouchers for eyeglasses are available for children who do not have public or private insurance that covers new or replacement eyeglasses. You will assist families with finding eye care and attending follow-up eye examinations. Your role includes helping to create individualized plans with families to overcome barriers to eye care when barriers exist, providing vouchers for the cost of eye examinations, or helping families apply for vouchers through Prevent Blindness.
What reporting is required to Prevent Blindness?
Individuals who apply for, and receive, a scholarship through the Zenni Scholarship to Advance Children’s Vision need to report the following to the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness via an annual survey:
- description of screening program (methods and tools used, type of setting, and organization name),
- number and ages of children screened during the year,
- number of children that received a referral to eye care after not passing a vision screening,
- number of children that attended an eye examination and received a diagnosis (can include monitoring), when applicable,
- number of children that received eyeglasses,
- number of children that received vision treatment other than eyeglasses,
- number of vouchers distributed, and
- “stories” of children who were identified by the vision screening as being “at risk” for a vision disorder and received treatment. If possible, quotes from parents/guardians and photos of the children should be submitted (with permission).
How do I receive and use the vouchers for Zenni eyeglasses?
Upon receipt of your certification, vouchers for the cost of online purchase of Zenni eyeglasses will be available upon request from Prevent Blindness by completing an online form (more information will be provided for scholarship recipients). A limited number of vouchers are available and should be used within 30 days of receipt. A valid prescription from an eye doctor is required to use the voucher.
Vouchers will cover the cost of one pair of pediatric glasses, which can be ordered online from Zenni, and the glasses will be shipped via mail. Access to the online request form for vouchers will be provided to all individuals successfully completing the certification course. Vouchers should be used only to provide access to eyeglasses for families who have difficulty affording the cost of glasses on their own, or children needing replacement glasses. Screeners who use these vouchers are encouraged to share stories about the effect of wearing the glasses for the first time or photos of children receiving eye care to promote the continuation of this new program. Witten permission is required from all individuals in a photo and media permission forms will be provided.
How do I apply?