IOA opposes effort by Indiana Department of Health to weaken school vision screening standards

The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) is asking the legislature to eliminate a requirement that schools offer enhanced vision screenings to children entering kindergarten and first grade. Enhanced screenings can detect up to 90% of vision defects in children and can allow for treatment so the children have a chance to prosper in school.  Among the common conditions enhanced vision screenings can detect is amblyopia, otherwise known as "lazy eye."  If this condition is diagnosed before a child leaves the first grade, the condition can be easily and effectively treated.

Each fall Optometrists volunteer their time to provide these enhanced vision screenings in Indiana schools, completely free of charge.  The enhanced screenings check for vision defects in children entering kindergarten and first grade.  If a school cannot find an Optometrist to conduct the enhanced screening, the school can request a waiver from the Indiana Department of Education.   The waivers are easily obtained, but a school obtaining a waiver must still provide simple vision screenings to children entering first grade pursuant to Indiana Code 20-34-3-12(e)

Simple vision screenings are also required for students in grades 3, 5, and 8, regardless of whether the school receives a waiver for the enhanced screenings.  Unlike enhanced screenings, simple vision screenings do not require an eye care professional and can be done by anyone.  A study of school screenings in Bloomington show that 50% of students who failed enhanced vision screenings would have passed simple vision screenings, leaving their vision defects undetected.

Although it has provided no evidence, IDOH says schools that obtain waivers for the enhanced screenings are not conducting vision screenings in any grade.  If this were true, the schools would be violating current law (see Indiana Code 20-34-3-12(d)).   

Please ask your state senator to oppose the Indiana Department of Health’s effort to weaken vision screening standards in schools.  Hoosier children deserve the best possible chance to learn.  Eighty percent of learning is accomplished through sight.

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Indiana Optometry
The Voice of Indiana Doctors of Optometry since 1897

Doctors of Optometry (ODs) are primary healthcare professionals for the eye. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye. Take a closer look at the profession of Optometry in Indiana and the comprehensive eye care optometrists provide by clicking on Patient Resources.