Imagine trying to learn your letters without your most valuable sense: sight. For some children, that sense is already failing them—and no one has noticed. FocusFirst ensures that children in urban and rural communities receive comprehensive vision care during their crucial formative years.

  • # of children screened by FocusFirst during 2014-15:
  • 47,063
  • Our Corps Members wake up early in the morning and travel extensively to reach all of these children.
  • # of children who failed the screenings:
  • 4,972
  • This represents 10.6% of children screened. All of these children receive free or subsidized follow-up care.
  • # of student volunteers in 2014-15:
  • 219
  • Most student volunteers provide service as a part of a course, or as a volunteer project with a club.
  • # of screenings performed in 2014-15:
  • 1,526
  • These include screenings at Head Starts, daycare centers, Pre-K programs, and health fairs.
  • 2004:
  • # of children screened:
  • 282,278
  • # of children who failed the screenings:
  • 30,399
  • # of student volunteers:
  • 3,050

Stats by state: AL / TN / PA / FL / SC

FocusFirst has been established over ten years in Alabama through significant support from Jim Kennemer and Vision Research Corporation.

"You want to make sure your child is fed. You want to make sure they have they clothes they need. You want to do anything you can to make sure they have a fair chance. And it's so unfair because she didn't know she couldn't see out of her left eye." --Gennifer Baker, Parent

The scariest thing about children having vision problems during their preschool years is that they can't detect them—so they can't tell anyone about it. And the most important time to find vision problems is during these early years, when problems can be corrected while visual pathways are still forming. Our FocusFirst film features some of the children we have served during this crucial formative stage of their life.

A $500 contribution means 240 children will receive free, high-tech vision screenings, 25 of whom will likely fail the screenings and receive follow-up care, ensuring they start school with the best vision medically possible.

Hundreds of thousands of children across the nation suffer from poor vision each year, leading to reduced academic performance, a substandard education, and low self-esteem. We know that vision screenings are most effective during the preschool years, when early identification and treatment of many conditions can prevent irreversible vision damage or loss. Unfortunately, many preschool-aged children are known to need eye care, but go without it.This is largely due to two things: poor public awareness about the importance of eye care in young children, and the inability of children to recognize their own vision problems. And for families from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, these problems are exacerbated by financial hardship and lack of access to appropriate medical care.

Plus, many child care centers utilize traditional eye charts to screen their children for vision problems—even though eye charts are a notoriously unreliable method of detecting vision problems in young children, and cannot detect significant problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or cataracts. FocusFirst utilizes high-tech screening cameras that can not only detect a much wider range of problems in preschoolers, but are far more time efficient than traditional screening methods and have a significantly higher positive predictive value in 3- and 4-year-old children.



Vision Research provides all of the vision screening equipment and manages the analysis of vision screening results for all children screened by FocusFirst in Alabama.

Sight Savers America coordinates all follow-up care, provided free of charge, for children who fail FocusFirst vision screenings.

FocusFirst is committed to providing free, high-quality vision care to all state-sponsored Pre-K programs as part of our partnership with the Alabama School Readiness Alliance.

The University of Alabama supports FocusFirst through providing work study students who conduct screenings throughout West Alabama, offering courses that include FocusFirst as a service-learning component,  and providing office space and financial support for our staff members.


We are so grateful to the companies and foundations who support FocusFirst across Alabama.

Impact America, an AmeriCorps Program, is housed and supported by the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility at The University of Alabama.  Additional office space is provided by UAB and Maynard, Cooper & Gale, PC.