The headline seems natural, but its amazing how often I see children who have had a harder time in school than necessary, all because they didn’t have a quick and painless eye exam. I copied the information below from a professional weekly email that I receive.
A new report from the National Commission on Vision and Health, “Building a Comprehensive Child Vision Care System,” found that children are being screened at low rates and those who are screened do not often receive the necessary follow-up and treatment they may require. Children without health insurance and those living in poverty are at the greatest risk. Although the majority of states do require some type of vision screening prior to children entering public schools, they often fail to use the best screening tests and to assure important follow-up for those who fail the screening. Only three states, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri, require comprehensive eye exams for children entering school. Currently fifteen states do not require any form of screenings or exams, resulting in a public health emergency for millions of children, according to the Commission.
“This report finds that vision screenings are not the most effective way to determine vision problems,” said Deborah Klein Walker, EdD, principal author of the report and Past-President of the American Public Health Association. “Screenings missed finding vision conditions in one-third of children with a vision problem and most of the children who are screened and fail the screening don’t receive the follow-up care they need. This, despite the fact that many of the vision problems affecting children can be managed or even eliminated if they receive proper care right away.”
Studies indicate that one in four children have an undetected vision problem. Additionally, a quarter of school-age children suffer from vision problems that could have been addressed or eliminated if appropriate eye assessment programs and follow-up care had been in place when they started school.
Given the data surrounding this public health emergency, the Commission recommends agencies at the federal, state and local levels collaborate with academia, business, providers and the public to create a comprehensive child vision care system to ensure all children are assessed for potential eye and vision problems before entering school and throughout the school years. In addition to universal access to vision care, the Commission recommends a point of accountability within local public health agencies, a national education campaign, and ongoing data collection to monitor the use and efficacy of child vision exams.
For more information visit www.visionandhealth.org.