A new report by The Vision Council, Making the Grade? finds state laws regarding vision assessments for children entering school are inconsistent, impeding children's ability to succeed in school. Since 80 percent of what children learn is through visual processing of information, undetected vision problems can severely impact a child's cognitive development. Early detection and treatment of vision problems are key to preventing permanent vision loss in children.
The Vision Council's report 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 do not require children to receive a vision assessment before starting school;
- Thirty-nine states (including D.C.) require a vision screening for children entering school; however 32 of these states do not mandate any follow-up care for children who fail the screening; and
- Three states 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 a child's cognitive, emotional, neurologic and physical development by potentially limiting the kinds of information the child is exposed to and impacting performance in extracurricular activities like music and sports.
The warning signs of potential vision problems include:
- Squinting, closing or covering one eye
- 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.