San Diego County students see a bright future after free eye exams

Reading “L-D-P-O-F” off an eye chart is a challenge for Genesis Buenrostro, 17. It isn’t her only challenge.

“I would rather buy diapers for my kid and get him clothes than worry about glasses,” she said.

Genesis is a single mother. Her nearly two-year-old son Luis stays in the Lindsay Community school nursery while she attends high school and, Thursday, while she got her eyes checked.

“It’s like with my eyesight, I’m trying to figure out how to look at words and not have a problem. But with glasses, I won’t struggle to be all the way in the back [of the classroom]. I’ll have a clear vision of everything,” Buenrostro said.

Over the past few years, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has partnered with VSP Vision. Their doctors provide free comprehensive exams and a new pair of glasses to students who need them.

At the eye clinic in Barrio Logan Thursday, students from four SDCOE community schools were seen. Some of the students were young parents or expecting a baby. Others were part of the juvenile court system. They were all in need of help with their vision just like most teenagers.


Genesis Buenrostro, 17, with her son Luis outside Lindsay Community School in Barrio Logan, San Diego, Calif., October 20, 2022.

“They’re spending too much time over-focusing and overworking their eye muscles when they’re on their cell phones. They need to take breaks and they need some correction sometimes,” said Dr. Jenn Chinn, an optometrist with VSP Vision.

The free eye clinic help has not been available to students since the COVID-19 shut down in March 2020. That means most of them have gone almost three years without an eye exam or other optical care.

Neomi Meza, 15, is a sophomore at the Lindsay School. She has done her best to get through class without glasses because she couldn’t afford them.

“I try to sit in front of the class to be able to see better, but it’s still too far so I have to take pictures with my cell phone and copy it down. But then you have to do that whole thing and then you get behind,” Meza said.

She and the other 50 students who were examined are expected to receive their new pairs of glasses in about two weeks.

Corrected: October 24, 2022 at 1:09 PM PDT

A previous version of this story identified Dr. Jenn Chinn as an ophthalmologist with VSP Vision. She is an optometrist.