158 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 The vision law from 1987 was repealed.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 Help for indigent students was repealed, too, in that same law.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.