A Houston Health Department program that puts students on the path to success through the gift of sight is celebrating a milestone. See to Succeed is entering its tenth year of providing free eye exams and corrective eyewear to underserved Houston-area students.
To recognize the program for serving more than 85,000 students and providing more than 78,000 pairs of glasses since 2011, Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaimed October 14, 2021 as “See to Succeed Day” in Houston. The proclamation was sponsored by District H Council Member Karla Cisneros, chair of City Council’s Childhood and Youth Committee.
The program, a public-private partnership supported by the Houston Health Foundation, provides a fundamental resource in support of the City of Houston’s pursuit of Children Friendly Cities Initiative, led by the Mayor’s Office of Education.
“See to Succeed is a flagship program of the Houston Health Department and a clear example of how partnerships between the public and private sectors can change lives for the better,” said Stephen L. Williams, director of the Houston Health Department. “Without these eye exams and corrective eyewear at no cost, most of these students would go years, or perhaps a lifetime, without a core need to succeed academically and socially.”
See to Succeed serves school children ages 6-18 years from 13 school districts and charter schools including the Houston Independent School District. Of the children served through the program, 69 percent are in elementary school, 51 percent have some form of limited English proficiency, and 94 are economically disadvantaged.
“See to Succeed fills a critical void in our schools. This valuable program ensures our children’s learning and school performance is not hindered by vision problems,” said HISD Superintendent Millard House II. “We are grateful to the Houston Health Department for providing free vision exams and quality corrective eyewear for our students.”
Each year, more than 40,000 children are diagnosed with a vision issue in the Houston region and half of the cases go unresolved. Unaddressed childhood vision disorders hinder development, social interactions, self-esteem, and school performance, especially in reading. Students who cannot read on-grade level are far more likely to drop out of school, and those with unresolved vision cases tend to earn 50% less annually upon entering the workforce.
In a study conducted collaboratively with HISD in 2015, the health department found the following program impact:
- 69% of students with at least one prior disciplinary action showed improvement
- 80% of students with failing grades improved: 94% of those passed reading; 67% of those passed math
- 68% of students chronically absent improved
“Good vision is a prerequisite for academic success. We are grateful to the wonderful partners and funders whose unwavering commitment has improved the life trajectory of so many young people over this past decade,” said Robin Mansur, President and CEO of the Houston Health Foundation. “See to Succeed has been silently helping underserved communities in Houston for a decade now and our mission isn’t over yet. We envision a community in which all children have access to the essential services they need to lead healthy lives for generations to come.”
The health department and partners conduct several one-day “missions” throughout the school year where hundreds of students rotate through dozens of stations to receive comprehensive diagnostic eye exams. The last station offers a variety of frames for students to try on and make a selection to be delivered to their school a few weeks later.
The program is supported by Berkeley Eye Center, Essilor Vision Foundation, San Jacinto College Eye Technology Program, the University of Houston College of Optometry, Walmart and numerous volunteer and philanthropic organizations.