Atlanta hopes new service will help students see a better educational future

Atlanta’s school system is partnering with a company to provide on-site eye exams for students.

The first exams are scheduled for Friday at Booker T. Washington High School.

The school district is partnering with 2020 On-site, a company that will bring its mobile unit to a school to conduct the tests. Once a school can provide at least 30 signed parental forms, 2020 On-site schedules a date and time to visit the school site to ensure they can see as many students as possible.

Students with uncorrected eye problems are often at an academic disadvantage, officials said, explaining the need for such services. Some students - and parents - are unaware the child has vision issues.

“Poor vision can be a huge barrier to learning,” said Atlanta school district Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. “We want to help our students gain access to the necessary health services so they can reach their highest academic potential.”

Atlanta’s school system will not have to pay for the service, officials said. In most cases, the company will bill a parent’s medical insurance company. Officials said they may waive an insurance co-pay or do the work for free for eligible low-income students.

Boston’s school district has a similar partnership with 2020 On-site, the company said.

By law, public school students must undergo simple vision screening in school, but many families don't follow up with the comprehensive annual eye exams recommended by the American Optometric Association.

The vision exams are part of the school district’s efforts to provide more wrap-around services, such as dental screenings, for students.