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Free eye exams for some students as vision carrier's mobile clinic visits 6 L.A. schools

September 20, 2010 |  9:59 am


For dozens of Locke High School students, the mobile eye clinic that rolled onto their campus Monday morning was a sight for poor eyes.

Optometrists will conduct free eye exams for 30 to 40 students with suspected vision problems and fit them for glasses in the first of six eye clinics to be held at Los Angeles schools by VSP Vision Care, the nation's largest carrier of vision insurance.

Students with no insurance were identified in advance for the exams, said VSP spokeswoman Kim Rankin.

Over the next week, the mobile clinic will also make stops at Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter, Animo South L.A. Charter, Animo Ralph Bunche School, Animo Locke Tech Charter and Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High, she said.

VSP started the program five years ago in response to Hurricane Katrina, Rankin said. It now operates three mobile clinics across the nation, she said.

In the Los Angeles area, eye exams range from $125 to $200, plus additional costs for glasses. VSP offers everything free of charge.

"This is our way of giving back to people who don't have vision insurance,'' she said.

The exams can be useful in detecting diabetes and high blood pressure, in addition to poor vision, Rankin said. VSP partners with local eye doctors who donate their time, she said.

Need always outstrips resources.

"We could sit still in one place for a month and not get to everyone,'' Rankin said. "A lot of people are losing jobs and benefits."

-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: Locke freshman Jacqueline Alonso views an eye chart through a device that determines a person's correct eyeglass prescription. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times