East High School hosts vision care clinic for RCSD students

Vision care classes at East High School

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A clinic Tuesday morning gave local students an opportunity to receive free comprehensive eye exams and custom-fitted frames.

The event is part of a new partnership with the University of Rochester’s Flaum Eye Institute to empower students by providing hands-on experience in crafting eyeglasses from start to finish. Additionally, graduates from East High School’s optics program can qualify for positions at Flaum Eye Institute. The school offers vision care classes as part of its career and technical education program.

Every month, East High students put on the vision clinic with the help of licensed instructors. They help fit others in the Rochester City School District with glasses, completely free of charge. A local eye doctor volunteers time to help get prescriptions for the patients.

Instructor Logan Newman created the program in 2011. The first year, it was a one-off elective — but since then, it has grown into a three-year program where students continue to build on their skills. Now, 28 kids are working their way through vision care classes.

If they complete their program, the students also will walk away with certain certifications. Those include qualifying for jobs at the University of Rochester’s Flaum Eye Institute.

“At first I just saw it and i thought it would be a good idea to take it ninth grade. It was hard at first, like learning the stuff was difficult, but once I learned it it got pretty easy, and I found I could get a job with the program, so I stuck with it,” said Yovaly Cartagena, who has been in the program three years.

UR is the educational partnership organization for East, and manages both the lower and upper school.

The funding for this program — and the clinics — comes mostly from the state.

Since the program’s inception, Newman says they’ve given out about 8,000 pairs of glasses.

“You can’t discount the feeling, its such a great feeling knowing that something you do makes a difference. When I was in education school, the professors I was with said be really happy that you’ve touched one student’s life and made a difference in one student throughout your entire career. And I can honestly say I feel like that every year, that there are kids that I’ve helped not only be able to see but also find a direction in their life,” Newman said.

In about two weeks, students will get their glasses hand-delivered by Newman.