This school year, TransDigm Group (NYSE: TDG) is teaming up with Cleveland Clinic to put at-risk children on the path to better vision. The aerospace company has donated $1 million to Cleveland Clinic’s Vision First program, a community outreach initiative that provides free comprehensive vision screenings and eye examinations to local elementary students from a mobile optometry van.
The five-year investment will allow Cleveland Clinic to reach more children in underserved communities throughout Northeast Ohio.
Nearly one in four American school-aged children has an undetected and untreated vision problem, according to the American Optometric Association. When a child’s eyesight is out of focus, it can affect their overall wellbeing, confidence and performance in the classroom.
“We are honored to support the Vision First program and its efforts to expand equitable access to eye-care services in the community,” said Kevin Stein, president and CEO of TransDigm Group. “When eye diseases are detected early, we can help prevent vision loss and make a meaningful difference in the lives of children.”
In addition to the gift from TransDigm Group, a significant contribution from Jim and Jeannie Chaney in 2020 made it possible for Cleveland Clinic to purchase a new, customized van equipped with two exam areas.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology , American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology, and the Children’s Eye Foundation recommends vision screenings starting at the age of 12 months to 3-years-old.
Cleveland Clinic is committed to creating healthy communities for everyone through programs to heal, hire and invest for the future. Vision First helps improve access to preventative eye-care services in early childhood to protect kids from potential vision loss in adulthood, and promote a lifetime of healthy eyesight.
Elias Traboulsi, M.D., head of pediatric ophthalmology at Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute, developed Vision First in 2002 in collaboration with the Cleveland Municipal School District. Over the years, the program has grown to include five additional school districts: Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Lakewood, Maple Heights and Warrensville Heights.
“One of the single most important investments that one can make is in the health and future of our children,” said Dr. Traboulsi. “This gift from the TransDigm Group will make an immeasurable impact in providing screenings to help combat vision impairment in children with limited access to these vital services.”
The Vision First van — staffed by Cleveland Clinic optometrists Heather Cimino, O.D., David Barnhart, O.D., and Anita Chitluri, O.D., and program manager Rhonda Wilson — visits more than 90 schools during the academic year. If a student fails an initial vision screening, the optometrist performs a complete eye examination, writes prescriptions and provides referrals to local pediatric ophthalmologists for advanced follow-up care. If a child needs glasses, they can choose their frames on the same day of their exam.
Since its inception, Vision First has performed more than 97,000 free eye exams and provided 7,500 eyeglasses to children in need. Nearly 14% of children screened have been diagnosed and successfully treated for a variety of vision problems through the program.