AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN AT RISK FOR UNDETECTED VISION PROBLEMS
New Report Highlights Best and Worst State Laws to Protect KidsÂ Vision
Alexandria, VA (BlackNews.com) - A new report by The Vision Council, Making the Grade? finds state laws regarding vision assessments for children entering school are inconsistent, which can impede childrenÂs ability to succeed in school. Since 80 percent of what children learn is through visual processing of information, undetected vision problems among children can severely impact cognitive development. This is particularly a concern for African American children because of the disproportionate rates of vision problems in their community.
Since many health and vision problems such as Glaucoma disproportionately affect African Americans, early detection and treatment of vision problems are key to preventing permanent vision loss in children. According to a survey conducted in 2006, almost one-third (30 percent) of African-American parents report that their child has never seen an eye care professional.
The report by the Vision Council examines the importance of early detection of vision problems for children and provides detailed information on states laws. Since the report was first issued in 2005, 14 states have enacted or enhanced laws regarding vision assessment for school-age children. "Many states are recognizing the critical connection between vision and learning," said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council.
Key findings include:
* Nine states(i) do not require children to receive a vision assessment before starting school or while enrolled;
* Thirty-nine states(ii) (including the District of Columbia) require a vision screening for children entering school, however 32(iii) of these states do not mandate any follow-up care for children who fail the screening; and
* Three states(iv) require all children to receive a comprehensive eye exam by an eye care professional before entering elementary school.
While the report finds that many states are enhancing their requirements for vision assessments, most do not include provisions for adequate follow-up care.
Undetected vision problems can affect children's cognitive, emotional, neurologic and physical development by potentially limiting the kinds of information to which they are exposed and impacting performance in extracurricular activities like music and sports.
The warning signs of potential vision problems include:
* Squinting, closing or covering on eye
* Constantly holding materials close to the face
* Tilting the head to one side
* Rubbing eyes repeatedly
* One or both eye turn in or out
* Redness or tearing in eyes.
To view the report and an interactive map of the country, showing current vision assessment requirements, visit http://www.thevisioncouncil.org/2020advocacy
Dedicated to enhancing life through better vision, The Vision Council represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry. We provide a forum to advocate for better vision and to promote quality vision care products and services in the global community.