The American Optometric Association (AOA) has endorsed H.R. 2238, the Children’s Vision Improvement and Learning Readiness Act of 2005, which was introduced by Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). This bipartisan measure would help identify and treat children with vision impairments that hinder learning and would ensure that the states committed to addressing this problem could supplement their existing children’s vision initiatives. H.R. 2238 has 204 cosponsors (see list on back).
Optometrists Urge Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to Co-Sponsor H.R. 2238
Healthy vision is an integral part of a child’s success in school, yet the National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that 25 percent of all school-aged children have vision problems. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, these children are placed at greater risk for amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (eye misalignment) and refractive errors. There must be zero tolerance for failing to identify vision problems in our kids that can be readily diagnosed and treated.
The best way of evaluating a child’s vision is through a comprehensive eye examination. This approach was validated by the NEI-sponsored Vision in Preschoolers (VIP) Study that identified comprehensive eye exams administered by optometrists and ophthalmologists as the “Gold Standard” for school-aged children.
After reviewing the data, the National PTA also has endorsed comprehensive eye exams for children entering school. The PTA’s position statement on children’s health includes the following provision:
“Early diagnosis and treatment of children’s vision problems is a necessary component to school readiness and academic learning; and that vision screening is not a substitute for a complete eye and vision evaluation by an eye doctor. Comprehensive eye and vision examinations by an optometrist or ophthalmologist are important for all children first entering school and regularly throughout their school-aged years to ensure healthy eyes and adequate vision skills essential for successful academic achievement.”
No child should be left behind due to vision problems. A commitment to vision exams for children entering school would reduce long-term health and education costs that result from undiagnosed vision problems and avoid increased social spending by improving the ability of children to learn and realize their full potential.
Doctors of Optometry are the nation’s largest eye care profession, serving patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, where in more than 3,500 of these communities, they are the only eye doctors.