“These make you look like Superman!” the volunteer says, holding up a mirror so Juan, a first grader with a buzz cut, can see himself in the navy-blue frames.
Juan turns his head one way, then the next, studying. He half-grins but shakes his head. The search is on for the perfect pair--one he’ll show off to his classmates and wear to see his school assignments.
For Juan and more than 1,400 other Pasadena ISD K-12 students, San Jacinto College’s See to Succeed program Feb. 3-7 provided a critical tool for classroom success: correct vision and healthy eyes.
Reading between the lines
The eyes have it
See to Succeed 2020 by the numbers:
- 65 Pasadena ISD schools
- 1,393 K-12 students
- 209 medical referrals
The San Jacinto College Eye Care Technology Program has coordinated See to Succeed for 10 years, serving more than 80,000 children. Event partners include Berkeley Eye Associates, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Houston Health Department, the University of Houston, and Walmart.
This year, 65 Pasadena ISD schools participated, 1,393 students received glasses, and 209 received medical referrals.
Schools bussed students with potential vision issues to the Central Campus. In the Slocomb Auditorium lobby, eye care technology students and other College students, faculty, and staff pre-screened the children. Screening methods ranged from stereo fly depth-perception, convergence, and near visual acuity tests to Ishihara color tests.
Afterward, identified children visited the College’s 5,000-square-foot eye care teaching center for full eye exams by doctors, then glasses fittings. Students also received medical referrals if the doctor discovered other issues during the exam.
See to Succeed covers the cost of frames, prescription lenses, and emergency medical care for all participating children.
This was the fourth time for Wendy Owens, an eye care technology optician program graduate, to work at See to Succeed. Recently certified through the American Board of Opticianry, Owens performed double checks, reviewing all test results and repeating or performing extra tests if something didn’t add up.
She looked for other ways to help too.
“There was a boy who had a pair of eyeglasses that were in really bad shape,” Owens said. “I offered to clean them, and that’s when I noticed they were extremely scratched, and there was nothing any microfiber cloth could have done to fix it.”
See to Succeed has opened her eyes to how many children with poor vision have not had proper eye exams or are wearing deficient glasses.
“It’s such a wonderful and amazing event helping children in need,” Owens said. “So many children have benefited from this, and it was definitely awesome to be a part of it.”
Envisioning lifetime success
Each year, Houston-area school districts identify more than 20,000 K-12 children with vision issues. Although schools alert parents, many children return to class without the issues resolved.
Kids Vision for Life estimates 25 percent of U.S. schoolchildren have vision problems that hinder learning, while 90 percent of kids needing glasses do not have them. Unresolved vision issues increase likelihood of school dropout, lower income, and even incarceration.
“The partners of this initiative knew this was unacceptable in our community,” said Debra Clarke, San Jacinto College Eye Care Technology Program director.
What they also knew: Children’s lives improve when they receive the eye care to succeed in school. See to Succeed makes this a reality.
“Our eye care technology students engage in this event from planning to the final report,” Clarke said. “Aside from implementing the skills they are learning in the program, I always want them to understand that individually this issue seems insurmountable, but together we can do so much to help others in need.”
Choosing a career for life
According to Clarke, eye care technology is a career for life, offering a diverse medical field with many subspecialties. But See to Succeed often solidifies students’ decision to enter this field.
“My students write a reflection paper after the event,” Clarke said. “One student who has excelled in class was still unsure this was the correct path for her. After working this event, she wrote that this was 100 percent where she needed to be.”
San Jacinto College’s internationally accredited program is the only one in Texas to offer the Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) certification. It has no prerequisite courses or enrollment waiting list and offers three degree/certificate pathways:
- Optician Preparatory Occupational Certificate
- Certificate of technology
- Associate of Applied Science
For more information, visit sanjac.edu/program/eye-care-technology.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, evolving industries, maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. San Jacinto College is among the top 10 community colleges in the nation as designated by the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence, and was named an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction in 2020. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers more than 200 degrees and certificates across eight major areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College’s impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.