MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Optometrists say poor vision can easily affect a student’s performance in school.

But if you don’t have insurance, it can be a struggle to pay for an eye exam and prescription glasses.

About 20 St. Paul kids who failed vision screenings at their school last fall got a follow-up exam Thursday with an optometrist.

The doctor came to them, thanks to the Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile. The clinic on wheels is funded by a partnership between the Phillips Eye Institute Foundation, Major League Baseball, the Minnesota Twins and the Pohlad Foundation.

It’s removing a roadblock for students who are struggling.

Como Park Elementary fifth grader Aniyza Neal says her vision problems have been giving her headaches.

“She had distance blur, common in the classroom that the blackboard’s a little blurry, and so with the near-sightedness correction she’ll see better,” Dr. Carol Johnson said.

After being examined by an optometrist, she got a prescription for eye glasses and a chance to pick out the frames.

“It was just getting real hard to see and I told my teacher can I move up by my cousin?” Neal said. “Then I still couldn’t see by her, so I had to move right there in the front row.”

The mobile eye clinic is staffed by eye doctors who are able to identify a wide range of vision problems.

“Sometimes we see abnormalities of the tissue that require more advanced study than glasses can address,” Johnson said. “We send them to see specialists in town that deal with their particular issues.”

Thanks to all the funding for the program, the children’s families don’t have to pay for anything, not even transportation costs if additional doctor visits are needed.

“It’s covered. It is one of those really comprehensive programs set up so that the child benefits at every step,” she said.

The Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile visits schools throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Click here to request a visit, or to make a donation.

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