Talk about fuzzy math.

For Christian Sloan, a Hollyvale Elementary School fifth-grader, the chalkboard arithmetic fractions were looking slightly fractured and the grammar sentences fairly fragmented. One thing looked crystal clear, however: It was time for a check up with the eye doctor.

But with an eye examination and eyeglasses costing a few hundred dollars or more for those without insurance, Christian's vision care might have to wait. That's why Peggy Lindsay, a registered nurse who is one of three RNs serving the Hesperia Unified School District, is so grateful for a $4,000 grant from St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley.

"Thanks to this grant from St. Mary's, he can have access to glasses," Lindsay said.

And Christian won't be the only Hesperia student who will see the benefits. The St. Mary gift will enable 40 students whose families don't have vision care insurance to receive needed eye care.

`Struggling, squinting'
A recent visit by the nurse to Maple Elementary School put the issue into focus. Of the 20 students of whom Lindsay performed a cursory eye test, nearly one-third showed the tell-tale signs of needing eyeglasses.

"They were struggling, squinting and rubbing their eyes," according to the nurse.

The teacher responded to the nurse, "Well, that explains a lot."

Not surprisingly, students receiving the new eyeglasses will be able to read more easily and with less eye strain. That translates into boosted productivity and learning.

Lindsay's first goal when encountering a student with eye care needs is to steer the family toward conventional means.

"I want to get them insured as a first option."

But for many people, especially "the working poor," the costs of insurance can be prohibitive. In that case, one of the district's nurses sends an eye-care voucher to the student's family.

For the St. Mary grant program, the school district has partnered with Dr. Mark Huang, an eye doctor who has offices in Hesperia and San Bernardino. Dr. Huang also is giving the school district a special discount.

"We can get more glasses from the same bucks," she said. "He wants this for his community."

Last Thursday, Christian and his grandmother visited the office of Dr. Huang, who performed an eye exam. Afterward, Dr. Huang and Steve Nagy, the eye doctor's business partner, fitted Christian with new eyeglasses.

"He just needs a little bit of help," Dr. Huang said. "He's been having a little bit of eye strain."