Transitions Optical and VSP Vision Care Join Bess the Book Bus and More Health to Help Local Students See Connection Between Vision and Literacy

Hundreds of Students at Ridgecrest Elementary Will Receive Free Eyecare, Eyewear and Books in Effort to Raise Awareness about the Impact Healthy Sight has on Their Ability to Read and Learn

Mar 10, 2011, 08:00 ET from Transitions Optical, Inc.

PINELLAS PARK, Fla., March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Continuing its efforts to impact the local community, Transitions Optical, along with partner VSP® Vision Care, mobile literacy outreach initiative "Bess the Book Bus" and health education organization More Health will visit Ridgecrest Elementary in Largo, Fla. today, March 10, and tomorrow, March 11,  to provide nearly 100 students with free, comprehensive eye exams and prescription eyewear fitted with Transitions® lenses to reinforce the connection between healthy sight and successful classroom performance. As part of the event, Jenn Frances, founder of Bess the Book Bus, will distribute free books to the approximately 750 students at Ridgecrest to encourage them to develop a lifelong love for reading, and More Health will present the students with lesson plans and activities tied to the importance of maintaining healthy sight.

"Studies show that 80 percent of what a child learns is through vision, and what's more – one in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem that can interfere with the ability to read and learn," said Pat Huot, director of managed vision care, Transitions Optical. "Both Transitions and VSP are committed to continuing to raise awareness among children and families in the Tampa Bay area and across the country about the connection between healthy sight and success both in and out of the classroom, and joining with local community organizations such as Bess the Book Bus and More Health gives us the opportunity to do so."

The evaluation process for students grades K-5 included eye screenings by VSP eye doctors, and those students who failed the screenings will be given comprehensive examinations onboard the mobile eyecare clinic, nicknamed "Eyenstein," which was developed by Transitions Optical and VSP to provide free eyecare and eyewear to children and adults in underserved communities across the country. The students requiring prescription lenses will receive complimentary eyewear fitted with Transitions lenses.  In addition to the complimentary eyecare and eyewear, all students will have the opportunity to climb aboard Bess the Book Bus to choose a new book to take home.

"During my visits to schools, shelters and community programs, I often notice children squinting while reading and see the frustration it causes," said Jenn Frances. "I am thrilled that Bess the Book Bus will be part of this event with Transitions, who is sponsoring the Book Bus' 2011 multi-city tour, VSP and More Health, to provide these children with the tools they need to develop a lifelong love for reading and learning."

Tampa-based health education organization More Health will also be at Ridgecrest to debut a brand new eye health lesson plan to the students about the importance getting regular, comprehensive eye exams and taking care of their eyes. More Health will provide the teachers at Ridgecrest with lesson plans and materials that can be used to continue the education beyond this event.

"All of us at Ridgecrest are so grateful to Transitions, VSP, Jenn Frances and More Health for bringing these services to our students and families," said Donna Benkert, principal, Ridgecrest Elementary.  "I have witnessed first-hand how much children's success in the classroom depends on their ability to see clearly when reading books or looking at the chalkboard. Having received these comprehensive eye exams and eyewear, I am sure that our students will finish this school year with improved grades and confidence, and will be excited to continue to read and learn throughout the summer."

The mobile eyecare clinic and Bess the Book Bus will be at the Transitions Championship, March 13 – 20, at Innisbrook Resort in the St. Pete/Clearwater area. During tournament week, more than 2,000 local students from area schools will receive free eye screenings and books.

To learn more about Transitions and VSP's mobile eyecare clinic and to find an eyecare professional near you, visit For more information about Frances's mobile literacy program, visit For more information about More Health, visit

About the Transitions/VSP Mobile Eyes Clinic

Since inception, the VSP Mobile Eyes® program has had over 740 VSP doctors volunteer their time participating in 314 events and helping more than 40,000 people see more clearly.  What started as an extension of relief efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the program features two mobile eyecare clinics, each with two comprehensive exam rooms and full eyeglass dispensaries, which respond to disasters and assist people in need in communities throughout the U.S.  In March 2010, Transitions Optical partnered with VSP Global to introduce the third clinic in the Mobile Eyes fleet, which has the unique feature of a finishing lab, featuring full-service lens finishing equipment, providing patients with eyeglasses on-site.

About Bess the Book Bus

Founded solely by Frances in 2004, Bess the Book Bus began visiting schools, shelters and after-school programs in the Tampa area to distribute children's books and host readings for underprivileged children.  Since then, Frances' efforts have expanded, servicing more than 200 children and adults in need each week to promote literacy.  Frances gives nearly 50,000 new books each year to schools, community centers and shelters, with 2010 being the record year, distributing more than 65,000 books.  Her program continues to grow as Frances prepares for her third multi-city tour across the country.  For more information about the program, visit

SOURCE Transitions Optical, Inc.