Posted by: Janet Hughes | May 18, 2009

Here’s the deal… “Illinois” Hold’em style!

New Image“There is no force so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” —Everett Dirksen

Millions of children’s eyes are at stake.  So here’s the deal…

This is my last attempt seeking approval of our Vision First form before the rulemaking is final for Illinois’ new eye exam law… in “Illinois” Hold ‘em style!

THE SHUFFLE: I am working hard for all children to gain the approval of our Vision First form for eye exams by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH or the Department) during the rulemaking period.

THE DEAL: Here’s the deal using my spin on Texas Hold ’em, the most popular card game amongst poker players. Learn more about Texas Hold ’em here.

THE BLINDS: The Vision First Kids Eyes Count Campaign!

Let the game begin…

1a. THE FLOP: Illinois now requires “all children enrolling in kindergarten in a public, private, or parochial school, or any student enrolling for the first time, to present proof of an eye examination.” (Public Act 95-0671)

1b. THE TURN: Illinois also requires that if an optometrist or ophthalmologist signs a report form and it is submitted to a child’s school, a child does not need a vision screening.  (Public Act 93-0504 or “Amy’s Law.”)

1c. THE RIVER: Since Illinois did not have a report form for only eye exams over six years ago, I created one with Dr. Kernis, Dr. Mizener, and Dr. Woods. A form with meaning and purpose was our goal.  Download The Most Important School Supply here. Vision First is now seeking the acceptance of this form by the Department so parents and schools could use one form for “Amy’s Law” and required eye exams.

2a. THE FLOP: The Department says they want one form for eye exams.

2b. THE TURN: Illinois already has three forms: IDPH Vision Examination Report; State of Illinois Eye Examination Report; and the Vision First Preschool and Student Comprehensive Eye and Vision Examination Report.

2c. THE RIVER: The law states an eye exam shall be recorded on “uniform forms which the Department of Public Health and the State Board of Education shall prescribe for statewide use.” Even the optometrists display this advice on their IOA website: “The results must be submitted to the school by the parents on a form approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.”  Vision First has a great form for eye exams.  Read more here… Why can’t the Vision First form be one of the forms?

3a. THE FLOP: November 5, 2008, the executive director of the Illinois Optometric Association (IOA) submitted a letter to the Department objecting to the approval of an alternate form for eye exams:  “We remain extremely concerned about the confusion, lack of coordination and expense that a multi-formed system will create and question the necessity.” Read more here…

3b. THE TURN: June 2002, I questioned the confusion, expense, and necessity of inadequate vision screenings! My eldest daughter’s first eye exam diagnosed a significant vision problem that previous health exams and vision screenings missed. I turned this negative experience for my child into a positive outcome for others. Read more stories here…

3c. THE RIVER: At their annual convention in 2007, the IOA adopted the resolution Importance of Comprehensive Eye and Vision Examinations. Optometrists support the mission of Vision First and recognize the Kids Eyes Count Campaign as a valuable program of education for parents and schools.  Why is an employee of the IOA concerned about the usage of the Vision First form? Why did he question its necessity and object to an alternate form?

4a. THE FLOP: The Department claims the approval of multiple forms will create confusion for the eye exam providers and school entities.

4b. THE TURN: I’m sorry.  It’s too late to prevent confusion.  It already exists.  For example, screenings are continually mistaken for exams. Download this fact sheet from the “Help! I’m confused!” series by Vision First.

4c. THE RIVER: Vision First aims to end the confusion. Once approved, the Vision First form will clearly show on the form that it is approved by the state of Illinois as proof of an eye exam. See sample Vision First form here. I’m curious.  Why is the State’s vision screening report entitled, “Vision Examination Report?” The Department is keeping this report form in addition to their Eye Examination Report.

5a. THE FLOP: The Department reports nurses and screeners who are charged with assuring that the eye exam has been completed are opposed to multiple forms.

5b. THE TURN: The parents who are charged by the eye doctor to pay for the eye exam are in favor of multiple forms.

5c. THE RIVER: Public records showed seven nurses, one screener, one man, and two health managers objected to multiple forms after First Notice closed.  On the other hand, during First Notice, almost 100 times more people supported the use of the Vision First form! Read these great compliments here…

6a. THE FLOP: The proposed rulemaking repeals the Rule for the children’s vision law from 1987. The Department claims that since the eye exam is now required for children starting kindergarten, the entire section is not needed.

6b. THE TURN: The vision law from 1987 concerns three grade levels, not one.  The intent of that law was for children to have vision examinations by an eye doctor with the health exams.

6c. THE RIVER: Public Act 95-0671 replaces only the kindergarten level.  The other grades should remain.   Sections 665.620-640 just needs to be amended.

I wonder why the Department wants to repeal Section 665.640 which regards the students eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. Repealing this Section denies help for students who can’t meet an eye examination requirement.

Illinois School Code states: “Additional health examinations of pupils, (I think the school code means students here, not your eyes!  LOL) including eye examinations, may be required when deemed necessary by school authorities.”

If the Department repeals Section 665.640, the schools that may require eye exams at the local level for students in other grades would NOT need to ensure those eye exams are made available for indigent students. Do you think this is right or wrong?

7a. THE FLOP: The proposed State of Illinois Eye Examination Report conforms to the State statute of Public Act 95-0671.

7b. THE TURN: The Vision First form conforms to the State statute of Public Act 95-0671, Public Act 93-0504 or “Amy’s Law,” and the proposed federal bill H.R. 577, the “Vision Care for Kids Act of 2009.”

7c. THE RIVER: The Vision Care for Kids Act of 2009 aims to provide $65,000,000 over the next five years as grant money to states participating in vision screenings. Even though I am against a bill for only vision screenings, I intend to work with the sponsors to incorporate language that includes support to states requiring an eye exam upon entry into school. According to the full text of H.R. 577, to be eligible to receive this grant money, the State must submit “a plan for the use of grant funds, including how funds will be used to complement existing State efforts (including possible partnerships with non-profit entities).”

Good news! Vision First has a winning action plan! The Department’s approval of the Vision First form is an excellent opportunity to begin a partnership with our non-profit group.

Check this out:  IDPH is already partnering with this great organization on their website called “Safe Kids Worldwide!”

Why not accept the Vision First form? Here are the Top Ten Reasons Why.

This is an important national issue. Illinois has the chance right now to lead the way.

When Barack Obama won the Presidency, he said: “This victory alone is not the change we seek… So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.”

I’m doing my part. Are you?

Don’t fold.

Be a no-limit person.

Play your cards right.

Make the best hand.

Raise the bar with the Vision First form.

Get on board with the Kids Eyes Count Campaign.

Let’s not gamble with our children.

This is a “win-win” for everyone.

Janet’s letter to IDPH: Read here…

Recommendations to the proposed Rule: Read here…

Recommendations to the proposed State form. Read here…

Sampling of letters supporting the Vision First form:

“As you can see, the Vision First Foundation has anticipated the mandatory eye examination. The Vision First Foundation was one of the primary movers in passing this legislation. The Vision First report form, along with the Reference Page, is the most complete and informative communication between disciplines that has ever been produced. The educator can use this information to enhance a student’s learning program. The form being considered by the state provides very little about helping the child. What a waste of valuable information. Please consider these remarks, not as condemnation, but as a sincere effort to establish for our children the most modern eye and vision care that is available.” Dr. Floyd Woods

“I am concerned with proposed rules written for the Child Health Examination Code. In particular, I object to proposed changes which restrict the proof of eye examination only to the use of the IDPH Eye Examination Report. I support the use of the Vision First form as proof of an eye examination in meeting the requirement of Public Act 95-0671. I believe the department should accept this form as proof of an eye examination.” Michael J. Madigan, Speaker of the House

“As a member of the legislature, I was the original sponsor of Public Act 85-351 that allowed school boards to provide for mandatory vision testing. I truly believed then, and more firmly believe now, that a distinct correlation can be made between good vision and good academics. After reviewing the proposed rule, I am of the opinion that it falls short of reaching the desired goal.” Terry A. Steczo

“I know from personal experience this effort on the part of the Vision First Foundation is not a turf battle. It is not a self-aggrandizing effort. It is a sincere endeavor on the part of mothers and fathers and interested people to do all they can to provide good vision to our youngsters.” Dr. Irving Bennett

“As the director of the Plano Child Development Center, I have diagnosed hundreds of patients who have received previous vision exams or no exams with visual skill deficits that could be treated…It would be a great form to use.” Dr. Stephanie Johnson-Brown

Past posts about the Vision First form:

Photo Janet and MikeVision First Form Rejected? April 19, 2009
Despite a resolution adopted by optometrists in 2007 in support of Vision First, Michael Horstman, the executive director of the Illinois Optometric Association (IOA), objected to Illinois accepting an alternate form for children’s eye exams. This post includes the Department’s objections countered by the Voice of Reason and Common Sense. Also includes many compliments!

website-photo-julie-no-glasses-at-poolVision First form upgrades children’s eye care October 12, 2008
Includes the top ten benefits of using the Vision First form AND great comments from our first petition.

Dr. K’s Quest for the Vision First Form September 25, 2008
“Dr. K” was a founding honorary board member of Vision First. He was also one of the primary authors of the Vision First form with Dr. Floyd Woods, Dr. Floyd Mizener, and me. He quickly became one of my giants and mentors on this vision mission.

Website Photo Amy and Mommy in 2001Vision First has a great form for eye exams. No Excuses. April 18, 2008
Every parent, school, and eye doctor can freely use the Vision First form for eye exams. This post holds the number one spot for most reads total.

website-photo-mark-at-pool-2Top Ten Reasons Why May 18, 2008
Here are the “Top Ten Reasons” why the Preschool and Student Comprehensive Eye and Vision Examination Report (Vision First form) should be approved.

photo-surprised-woman-readingEmergency Rule Needs 911 June 28, 2008
Here’s what I have to say about the emergency action taken by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and how it impacts you and the intent of the law.

website-photo-floyd-woods-07We will miss you, Dr. Woods August 25, 2008
This was the hardest post for me to write. Our dear friend and loyal supporter passed away peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with cancer during the morning of August 25, 2008. Dr. Floyd Woods was one of the primary authors of the Vision First form with Dr. Floyd Mizener, Dr. Irving Kernis, and me.

j0162959Nanny state mandate? No way! August 20, 2008
The Chicago Tribune was in the dark about Illinois’ new eye exam law… until I turned the light on!

Copyright (c) 2009 Vision First Foundation. All rights reserved.


  1. Janet is right! Let’s not gamble with our children’s eyesight. When it comes to proper eye exams lets deal the kids a winning hand.

    Thanks Janet for all of your hard work. We need to be “All-in” for the future of our children’s vision and eye care!

    Everyone, please support Janet, Vision First, and our children’s health!

  2. Very creative approach. I enjoyed reading it and wish you luck in your trip downstate.

  3. “May the force be with you!” Good luck, Janet and Nora.

  4. Janet thanks for all you do. The eye is most important kids needs the best.

  5. A critically important issue that should be heartily endorsed by all school districts. Money far better spent then another new administration building – but rather where money is seldom spent on the students.

  6. Thank you for working so hard for the children , I am sure you will eventually win !!

  7. Much Luck Janet!!! My heart is with you!

  8. I am sick of kids being put on anti psychotics when many of them just need to be tested for their eyes.
    Seems to me the school system is hell bent on spending taxpayer money on these dangerous mind altering drugs rather than actually ensuring that the kids can see what it is they are reading.
    Money is the game instead of our children’s well being.

  9. Good on you, Janet.

    The children hold the vision of the future.

    Love Ya,

    Dr Tony Minervino, DC

  10. Thank you so much for all you do! I can’t imagine not winning this as children are so dear and innocent and need us to fight for them. If we do it when they are very young then we stand a good chance at them “paying it forward” when they become adult parents.

  11. Janet,you go!! 🙂 Thank you and bless you for all that you do…many blessings

  12. Thank you Janet.God bless

  13. You’ll do it Janet

  14. You go Girl! You are doing a great job!

  15. I don’t think Illinois can beat the corruption in NJ ! LOLOLOL : )

    Give em Hell Janet !

    Much love

    Have a wonderful week !

    Many blessings to you and yours,


  16. They will no doubt have to give into you sooner or later once they realize you aren’t going to give up the fight for what’s right!

    Hugs & Hang Tough,

  17. […] the Stars.” Yes, it’s been a busy year! Read about the election here… Here’s the deal…”Illinois” Hold’em style! May 18, 2009 Written for the novice poker player, here’s my spin on the famous game […]

  18. wonderful writing and I dig the site but what about the ugly issue of collusion in online poker?

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