CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Local non-profit Conexus Vision is gearing up to give thousands of kids access to eye screenings and glasses this year thanks to a successful donation campaign.

In 2022, 8News partnered with Conexus for the Gift of Light Campaign for the fourth year. The campaign ultimately raised $23,500 through donations from local partners and donors. The money will now go towards continuing Conexus’ mission of helping children across the state see better.

According to Tim Gresham, president and CEO of Conexus, one out of every three students in Virginia has problems with their vision. Poor eyesight can make many things in a child’s life difficult, especially going to school and learning.

“We’ve learned that 80% of what young children learn is through vision, whether in a book or on a board,” Valenda Campbell, Vice President and Director of Marketing at Village Bank, a community partner of Conexus, said. “A large portion of children in our schools have a correctable vision barrier that is preventing them from learning. Making sure we’re keeping them able to see and learn correctly is going to benefit them for the rest of their school career.”

Conexus aims to help kids overcome eyesight woes by providing free eye screenings using state-of-the-art Visiocheck equipment at 49 different school divisions across Virginia. If a child shows signs of vision issues, Conexus helps them meet with an optometrist for a full exam. Conexus can then make a child’s prescription glasses within two weeks and can replace or repair lost and damaged frames in-house at Conexus’s new lab site in Midlothian for no extra charge.

Thanks to campaigns like Gift of Light, Conexus is helping more children than ever. In October 2022, the Mobile Vision Center fitted their 10,000th pair of glasses during a stop at Lakemont Elementary School in Petersburg. Gresham estimates that in 2023, Conexus will screen about 95,000 kids across Virginia and help give many of them the ability to see clearly and thrive.

“It’s a beautiful thing when you see a child look through a lens for the first time and their face lights up,” Gresham said. “To see that smile on a child’s face when they can see clearly, some of them for the first time in their life.”