Illinois Eye Institute at Princeton Elementary Celebrates Five Years of Serving Chicago Students
South Side School-Based Vision Clinic Announces Positive Impact of Comprehensive Eye Exams on Students’ GPAs, Math Test Scores
CHICAGO, March 15, 2016 – A study conducted by the Illinois Eye Institute at Princeton Elementary School and Chicago Public Schools showed a statistically significant improvement in student GPAs and math test scores after students received comprehensive eye exams and glasses. IEI at Princeton, a partnership between the Illinois Eye Institute and Chicago Public Schools, is celebrating its fifth anniversary on March 17, having served more than 31,000 students.
IEI at Princeton assists students who are unable to receive comprehensive eye exams after failing school vision screenings. As part of this commitment, the clinic studied its patients to determine if there was any positive impact on academic performance following an eye exam and distribution of eyeglasses. The results of the study indicate a small yet significant effect on students’ GPAs and math test scores after visiting the clinic.
“We see a lot of children with significant vision problems, and since many are referred by their teachers or counselors, we knew that many of them also were struggling academically,” said Sandra Block, OD, ICO professor and medical director. “The results of this study demonstrate the difference that comprehensive eye exams can make in students’ academic lives, which in turn sets them up for greater success in the future.”
The study included assessment of 14,663 CPS students who visited the clinic between January 2011 and January 2014. Study findings include:
- Of the students seen at the clinic, 15 percent had moderate to severe uncorrected refractive error. These patients showed significantly higher GPAs following their visit. The improvements in GPA were larger than those observed in students without severe vision problems.
- Students who visited the clinic when they were in grades 3-4, or when they were in high school, experienced greater gains in math test scores than students who first visited in grades 5-7.
IEI at Princeton, which is housed in a now-closed CPS school, sees a variety of students, including those who are referred from the school teacher/counselor, failed a vision screening, have broken or lost their glasses, are in the process of being assessed for special education needs, are in need of a comprehensive eye exam for entrance into CPS, or have been identified by a parent as having possible vision issues. Students can be bused to the clinic from their school or brought into the clinic by their parents. The Illinois Eye Institute is able to offset the cost to students through the generosity of several foundations and through in-kind donations from the Illinois College of Optometry. Every student who needs glasses receives them.
“We are pleased that IEI at Princeton has helped so many students realize their academic potential by providing comprehensive vision exams,” said Dr. Block. “However, their exam really is just the start of a lifetime of healthy eyes. It’s important that parents and teachers encourage children to wear their glasses or replace lost or broken glasses, so they can continue to learn and grow. Healthy eyes really are the window to a healthy life.”
IEI at Princeton is celebrating its fifth anniversary with an on-site event on March 17. More information about IEI at Princeton can be found at www.ico.edu.
About the Illinois Eye Institute at Princeton Elementary School
The IEI at Princeton Elementary School is the largest school-based vision clinic in the nation, with 13 examination lanes. A partnership with Chicago Public Schools, this clinic – located inside Princeton Elementary School, which was closed by CPS in 2009 – opened in 2011 and provides needed eye health and vision care to thousands of underserved CPS students. Services the clinic provides include eye exams, vision therapy, visual information processing testing, optical coherence tomography, anterior and posterior segment photos and eye-movement testing.
The clinic is staffed by a medical director, attending staff doctors, three customer service associates, four opticians and between 55-65 Illinois College of Optometry students performing clinical care each academic quarter. ICO optometrists and residents oversee the ICO students.
The program is currently funded through Medicaid reimbursements for approximately 80 percent of the population and private grants from the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, Alcon, the Polk Bros. Foundation, Michael Reese Health Trust, Grant Health Care Foundation and a few other local and regional foundations dedicated to improving children’s health and academic success. For a complete list of supporting organizations and individuals, visit www.ico.edu.
Jenni Gaster Sopko
Illinois College of Optometry