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Why school screenings are not enough

Health Reform Offers Better Children's Vision Care in the U.S.

Undiagnosed and untreated vision problems among school-aged children in the United States are urgent national public health challenges[2]. When vision problems are missed by vision screening, children are often misdirected into Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and/or ADHD treatments unaware that they actually need vision care instead.

Vision screening is not an eye exam. Vision care, now defined as annual access to eye examination and glasses, is essential to a child's overall physical, mental health, social development and educational advancement opportunities.

Our nation's historical misreliance on vision screening has plagued our education, mental health and juvenile justice systems for too long, serving as major contributive factors to children's inability to perform and conform to the demands of school and society. With an estimated 75 to 90 percent of all classroom learning coming to students via the visual pathways, nearly all tasks a child is asked to perform in the classroom depend on good visual skills; visual skills that can only be assessed through a comprehensive optometric eye examination[4] and are significant contributors to early reading difficulties and ultimately to special education classification. 

Vision screening, by falsely telling too many children that they have no vision problem, when they actually do, has long closed the door to vision health and education opportunities, especially for children from families whose socio-economic status is at or below 400 percent Federal Poverty Level (FPL), already burdened by being 3 times more likely to have permanent vision problems, by going without vision examination.[6]. Research shows that children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), in the age range of 6- 16 years, and juvenile offenders, have high rates of undiagnosed and untreated eye problems including hyperopia (farsightedness) affecting reading speed and comprehension. The research concludes that all students being considered for an IEP should have a comprehensive eye examination, because often all the student requires is optometric treatment

In conclusion, our nation's children all deserve a clear future.  Parents should make sure their child has the tools needed to succeed in school and later in life. If children are not assessed early and regularly, through comprehensive eye examination, greater levels of preventable disease disparity and disability will result.  The ACA allows parents to access these comprehensive eye exams.  The new vision care provisions of the ACA now assure that Children's Vision Care in U.S. will never be the same, only better.

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