Posted by: Janet Hughes | June 28, 2008

Emergency Rule Needs 911

photo-surprised-woman-reading158 days late for the new eye exam’s ruling is just the beginning. Add over 100,000 children in 117 days and one starts to wonder how the new smoking ban and tainted tomatoes could delay something important for our kids.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) set the rules on June 6, 2008 for a law that became effective January 1, 2008. All children entering kindergarten, or the first grade in Illinois, will need an eye exam or the school may withhold the child’s report card.

The Illinois Register posted the notice of emergency amendments for the new eye exam law on June 20, 2008. (See pages 9055-9070 or print 221-236.) The rule ends in 150 days, or upon adoption of permanent rules, even though no permanent rule has been proposed yet by DPH. I wonder why a permanent rule wasn’t proposed with the emergency rule…this is unusual.

Here’s what I have to say about the emergency action taken by DPH and how it impacts you and the intent of the law:

1. The Vision First report form was omitted as proof of an eye exam. The Vision First form has been successfully used for over five years. The State form? It was posted May 30, 2008. Doesn’t it make sense to accept the Vision First report form as proof of an eye exam, especially if the exam was done before May 30th?

2. The law states eye exams shall be part of the health exams. October 15 is the required due date, yet schools that opt for the first day of attendance instead of October 15 are not included. Did someone miss something here?

3. The State of Illinois Vision Examination Report was removed. In the past, this form was sent to parents following a failed vision screening. What does the State intend to do now?

4. Only optometrists are required to include additional tests in the mandated eye exam as part of the Illinois Optometric Practice Act. Did you know physicians who provide eye exams are practicing optometry by exemption? I wonder if this is the reason why “Not able to assess” is on the State form. Do you think doctors who provide eye care should be accountable for the same requirements in the Illinois Optometric Practice Act, too?

5. The vision law from 1987 was repealed. We’re going backwards, not forwards, when we remove something that helps our children. I agree the kindergarten age should be amended, but don’t remove grades five and nine. Isn’t academic learning estimated to be 80% visual?

6. Help for indigent students was repealed, too, in that same law. The vision law from 1987 gives schools the option to make vision exams part of the health exams, provided the school ensures vision exams are made available for needy families. Instead of helping these families now, the State is promoting their “waiver.” What happens if that child has a vision problem?

7. The waiver is due by October 15. This does not make sense. How can a waiver form be due at the same time as the eye exam form? A waiver should be given only after the due date. Has anyone heard of Vision USA, Sight for Students, or the local Lions Club?

8. The waiver lacks a disclaimer. If the State is going to give parents a reason not to fulfill the eye exam requirement, then the State should inform these parents that their child may have an undetected and untreated vision problem that could affect sight, schoolwork, and success in life. What do you think of this idea?

For the record, I sent a letter to DPH voicing my concerns and recommendations for a better permanent rule. I hope it doesn’t sit in a file unread.

All children starting school deserve the best vision possible for a lifetime of learning. The Vision First form exceeds the law to ensure this happens. Do you think healthy eyes and good vision are a child’s best school supply?


Copyright (c) 2008 Vision First Foundation. All rights reserved.


  1. Is there a reason why the Vision First form was not accepted? The Vision First form looks really good and thorough.

  2. Thank you, Cecilia, for your compliment about our form! We put many hours into this form so that it will have meaning and value to both parents and teachers. We want to make sure children get a quality exam at their eye appointment.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a concrete answer as to why our form was not accepted. The only reponse I got from DPH was this…DPH wants “one form.” DPH thinks more than one form will be confusing and suggested we use the State form in our campaign.

    I disagree. The State form limits the form’s use to just a required eye exam and one law. The Vision First form is versatile. It can be used for four laws! From vision screening notification to recommended and required eye exams. Now that’s simple and easy for schools and parents. I wish DPH would see that. 🙂

  3. What is the big deal here? Why can’t DPH approve the Vision First form?

  4. I just don’t understand why it is so difficult to get adults to do what’s right for children. It has been said that children are our priority…children are our future…we must do our very best for children. What happened?

  5. […] Emergency Rule Needs 911 June 28, 2008 Here’s what I have to say about the emergency action taken by DPH and how it impacts you and the intent of the law. […]

  6. […] Emergency Rule Needs 911 June 28, 2008 Here’s what I have to say about the emergency action taken by DPH and how it impacts you and the intent of the law. […]

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