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Children`s Vision Day Marked by Release of New Survey Showing Overwhelming Support for Eye Exams for Children Starting School (PR Newswire) ...``lazy eye``) and even life-threatening conditions such as brain tumors.... - Sep 25 12:22 PM ET


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Posted on: 09/25/2001

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Tuesday September 25, 12:23 pm Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: Ohio Optometric Association

Children's Vision Day Marked by Release of New Survey Showing Overwhelming Support for Eye Exams for Children Starting School

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- September 26, 2001 is Children's Vision Awareness Day and is marked by several events across Ohio. The Vision Council of America (VCA) today released a new survey showing parents believe -- by a four-to-one margin -- that a comprehensive eye exam should be required for children entering their first year of school, and they would be willing to take their child for such an exam. These findings come at a time when a number of states, including Ohio, are considering legislation that would require kids to get a comprehensive eye exam before they enter Kindergarten.

"A vision test should be the first test any child should take -- even before they set foot in the classroom," said Susan Taub, MD, member of the Better Vision Institute -- an expert advisory panel to the VCA. "Making a comprehensive exam a prerequisite to the first year of school helps our children succeed and ensures that they are equipped for a lifetime of learning and achievement."

According to the national survey, 92 percent of Americans would support a requirement for an eye exam if insurance coverage was available or charitable assistance was available for parents who could not otherwise afford the exam. Typically, private health insurance plans cover eye exams, and for low-income families exams are covered by Medicaid or a state's Children's Health Insurance Program.

The national survey of 1,011 adults conducted July 11-15 also found that a majority of Americans (89%) believe the simple vision screening -- a distance vision test using the big "E" (Snellen) chart -- is not a sufficient test and children should receive a comprehensive eye exam. While vision screenings are useful in diagnosing disorders relating to distance vision, they miss other critical deficiencies that can impact a child's eye health and development such as color vision or visual alignment. These functions are critical to a child's success in school, whether reading the blackboard, reading a book, or learning on a computer.

Studies show that 80 percent of all learning during a child's first 12 years is obtained through vision. Yet the American Public Health Association reports 10 percent of all preschoolers and 25 percent of students in Kindergarten through 6th grade -- one out of every four -- have vision deficiencies.

Last year Kentucky became the first state to pass a law requiring students to get a comprehensive vision exam before starting school. Preliminary data collected on 3,000 students revealed a wide variety of undiagnosed conditions, ranging from a need for corrective glasses to diagnoses of sight-threatening conditions such as amblyopia ("lazy eye") and even life-threatening conditions such as brain tumors. One-in-eight 5-year-olds and one-in-five 6-year-olds were found to need glasses or other follow-up care.

VCA recently launched a campaign to encourage regular comprehensive eye exams for children and adults. For more information about this campaign visit www.checkyearly.com . Parents can get a free copy of a brochure on eye health by calling 1-800-424-8422.

Vision Council of America is a nonprofit trade association representing the optical industry. VCA is available to supply reporters with industry statistics, product for photo shoots and expert spokespeople.

SOURCE: Ohio Optometric Association

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