Starting school is exciting for children. It means new school supplies, making new friends, and learning many new skills, including how to read. However, if a child has a vision issue, it can hamper the student’s success and may not be immediately apparent.


Children don’t know what they don’t know. If their vision is impaired, they have no idea, because they have nothing else to compare it to. This was the case for Ty, a first grader at Frohardt Elementary in Granite City, IL.


Ty’s father first noticed that there might be an issue with Ty’s vision because of the way Ty ran. He would sprint in short spurts and would trip often. This was caused by not being able to see very far ahead and not being able to see the ground well enough to know if there was an obstacle.  


In addition, Ty’s teacher and school nurse observed that he was having difficulty focusing. This made doing his schoolwork quite challenging and was frustrating for Ty. Imagine spending the first six years of your life not being able to see clearly and having no idea that how you are seeing the world isn’t how it actually looks.


The school nurse made sure that Ty would be one of the students to receive a free eye exam when Eye Care Charity of Mid-America’s (ECCOMA) Mobile Vision Clinic (MVC) visited the school at the end of the year.


“I knew by the way he was unable to focus on my face when I interacted with him that he could not see me,” says Kelly Bowman, ECCOMA site coordinator. Ty’s eye exam revealed that his vision was 20/100, which means that a person must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.


“The MVC doctor gave me two lenses to look through that mimicked Ty’s eyesight,” says Ty’s dad. “I couldn’t read the words on the paper in front of my face and couldn’t recognize Ty standing in front of me. I asked the doctor, ‘How can he even read?’ I was shocked by how bad his vision was.”


Ty received two pairs of free glasses from ECCOMA – one pair for home and one pair for school. He even got to choose his new frames with help from his dad. “Ty loves his glasses so much that he only takes them off to go to bed.”


Now Ty is several months into second grade, and his teacher says that because he can see clearly, Ty is close to reading at grade level.


Ty is now able to be a successful student and is no longer struggling to see. He can also run smoothly and really fast according to his dad. “The people at Eye Care Charity are really nice people,” says Ty’s dad. “The whole experience was a good one. I give them five stars, and I’m thankful to them for providing much-needed glasses for my son, who will now have a great start in life.”