PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — For the fourth year, 8News is proud to partner with Conexus Vision for the Gift of Light Campaign.

Conexus Vision is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps local children in our school see better.

Students that show signs of vision issues then meet with an optometrist that is brought into the schools by Conexus and given a full eye exam. After the eye exam, children can pick out frames of their choice from a very large selection. Prescription glasses are made for them and within two weeks those children are seeing better.

Kay’den, a third-grade student at Lakemont Elementary School, had a complete eye exam in the Conexus mobile vision lab.

He thought he could see well, but when he tried on a pair of glasses, he realized just how much better he could see with them on.

After reading an eye chart that was ten feet from where he was sitting, he found that glasses helped improve his sight, even at such a young age.

Unfortunately, it is common for children to squint because they don’t know that they can’t see clearly, so they try to adjust. This can lead to problems with really bad headaches during the school day.  

Robin Hood, the coordinator of the school health program at Petersburg City Public Schools explained further.

“They come back with the same complaint over and over again,” Hood said. “Week after week. Headaches. When the students come in, they complain repeatedly like that the nurse will do an actual screening the old fashioned way with a Snellen chart. And if they don’t pass, then that would be a perfect referral to Conexus. They will get that screening with the high tech device right there in the classroom. And if they don’t pass, they’ll be referred to have a full eye exam.”

Once a student is referred to Conexus, the parents are notified, but there is nothing for the parents to do. 

“Most of the parents are really grateful. What they are grateful about is the fact that they don’t have to take off work,” Hood said. “They don’t have to call and make an appointment. We’ve done the screenings here. We’ve done the next step of screening and then we get the eye exams done with that great mobile clinic that Conexus brings here.

The whole process, from the initial screening to receiving glasses, can take a couple of weeks but it is so worth it.

“I like to see them when they get those glasses,” Hood said. “Actually, that’s the best part. When they look in the mirror and they see themselves, really see themselves for the first time and they see those glasses — what a self-esteem booster. And it just puts a smile on everybody’s face.”

Your donations help fund eye screenings, the mobile vision clinic, eye exams and eyeglasses for those in need. You can donate to Conexus here!