Asm. Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) has recently introduced legislation which would boost the learning potential of California students and promote lifelong health by requiring comprehensive eye exams upon starting school.
AB 1110, co-authored by Asm. Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Sens. Andy Vidak (R-Visalia) and Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove), is necessary at a time when one in four children and adolescents have a vision problem that can impede their learning, but current school-based vision tests fail to identify one-third of them.
“Children can’t learn when they can’t see the blackboard clearly,” said Asm. Burke. “This bill helps connect children with care to prevent or correct eye and vision problems that are the number one cause of childhood disability. Because insurers are already required to provide no-cost eye exams and glasses to children, this bill is the most significant investment in our children’s health and education.”
Vision tests currently administered in schools are not sufficient to detect disorders such as binocular vision deficiencies that can impede reading, nor do they look into the eye for serious concerns like diabetes or eye cancers. Only a comprehensive eye exam, administered by a physician or optometrist, can detect the full range of disorders that affect children’s learning and screen for significantly disabling conditions.
“It’s common to see young patients struggle to read even after ‘passing’ a school eye test, but with proper diagnosis and glasses if needed, school performance often improves right away,” said Sage Hider, O.D., President, California Optometric Association. “Today’s computer-based society places a large demand on California’s student’s eyes in the classroom and at home. We need to give our students the tools to succeed by opening a lifetime of clear sight and overall health.”
The Affordable Care Act guaranteed children a no-cost comprehensive eye exam and glasses, underscoring the crucial role of eye health in an overall preventive approach to healthcare. Yet many parents are unaware of this benefit or the crucial role comprehensive eye exams play in their children’s health. AB 1110 is sponsored by the State Board of Optometry and strongly supported by the California Optometric Association.
“Too many parents aren’t aware of the role eye exams play in overall health, or that these comprehensive exams are available at no cost to the patient through health plans; this bill will help change that. Especially in communities where health costs and barriers to care put extra burdens on families, this bill will create opportunities for our students to live well and learn. At the same time, it respects parents’ choices, and imposes no opt-out penalties,” said Jessica Sieferman, Executive Officer, California State Board of Optometry.