Program gives eyeglasses to D-FW students

FORT WORTH -- Krystal Lopez, 7, could see only fuzzy faces and blurry images since her glasses went missing this summer.

On Wednesday, at a mobile vision clinic at Manuel Jara Elementary School, the first-grader underwent an eye exam and fitting and had a brand-new pair of Nine West glasses with teal frames in less than an hour. "Sometimes, I can't really see far without glasses," Krystal said. "And I got them my favorite color, like the ocean."

She was among the first of an estimated 2,000 Fort Worth students who will receive free glasses this year through Kids Vision for Life -- Tarrant County, sponsored largely by the charitable divisions of Alcon and Essilor Vision, an eye-care and lens-manufacturing company.

The program began in Dallas in 2008 and moved to Everman and Fort Worth last year. Officials announced this week that it will be expanded to 21 Fort Worth elementary schools this year and to other Tarrant County districts next year, including Arlington.

Nearly 20 percent of Fort Worth elementary students need glasses, officials say. Participating schools were selected based on the number of students who failed vision tests but lacked glasses, said Michael Steinert, executive director of student support services for the Fort Worth district.

Officials said students who cannot see well struggle more in school and have discipline issues.

Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700