Posted by: Janet Hughes | November 26, 2009

A closer look at H.R. 577–Vision Care for Kids Act

Currently there is a bill in the U.S. Senate called the Vision Care for Kids Act of 2009. Already passed by the House, this federal legislation hopes to improve the vision care for America’s children. According to the original bill in Section 2, Congress states these findings: Millions of children in the United States suffer from vision problems, many of which go undetected.

The Vision Care for Kids Act of 2009 aims to provide $65,000,000 over the next five years. Grant money will be awarded as follow-up care to states participating in vision screenings.

According to the bill, children must be previously referred by vision screenings with a possible vision problem and must not have insurance or coverage under any federal or state programs.

While many children not receiving adequate eye care are from working poor families, lack of vision care is a serious problem affecting children in all economic levels. The National Eye Institute reports: Fewer than 15% of all preschool children receive an eye examination.

The Vision Care for Kids Act of 2009 addresses only the children who fail a vision screening. Unfortunately, this bill does not address the true problem—the vision screening system and its substitution for eye examinations.

The original bill declared in Section 2 that children have refractive errors, amblyopia, strabismus, and various medical eye problems. However, there was no mention of the vision problem affecting reading and school performance—binocular dysfunction and learning related vision problems. It is estimated that 6% of eye problems are medical. The remaining 94% are vision problems.

There is a need for education regarding the diagnosis and treatment of all vision problems yet according to the latest version of this bill, no more than 10 percent received under the grant can be applied towards education.

Since vision screenings do not make a diagnosis, children who “pass” will be at risk with undetected eye and vision problems. Children will continue to “fall through the cracks” and remain “left behind” due to vision screenings and the limits contained in this proposed bill.

The public needs to be informed what eye care professionals have known for years—that a vision screening is not a substitute for an eye examination by an eye doctor.

Parents should be encouraged to have their children undergo comprehensive eye and vision examinations, not vision screenings. All children should be examined by an eye doctor, not just those who fail a vision screening.

The Vision Care for Kids Act of 2009 will continue the problem. It does not address the solution.

Read the complete text of H.R. 577 here.

Read more about vision screenings here.

ATTENTION U.S. SENATORS:  Improve the language in this proposed bill.  I urge you to include “Amy’s Vision Law” and support to states that require an eye exam for children starting school.  For further information, please contact me here. Thank you in advance for your interest and support.

Make a difference in the eyes of a child! Follow three simple steps in the “Kids Eyes Count Campaign.”

KNOW vision screening is not a substitute for eye examination.

MAKE comprehensive eye and vision examinations by an eye doctor part of a child’s healthcare.

KEEP eye care health and good vision habits a priority.

Join the “Kids Eyes Count” email list here. Receive updates and important news.

Vision First respects your privacy. Your email address will not be shared or sold. Sign-up here today! Thank you for your interest and support.

Copyright © 2009 Janet Hughes. All rights reserved.


  1. Dear Janet:

    This is a very good post regarding the bill in the Senate (Vision Care fo Kids Act of 2009).

    Your statement about the importance of going to an eye doctor for a complete exe exam instead of a visiion screening makes so much sense.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Only a comprehensive eye examination by a vision specialist is acceptable, just like dental and physical exams by doctors.

    Screening is ineffective and adds unnecessary cost. Way too many vision problems are never found, too. We do not want that guilt on our hearts!

    American children deserve an eye doctor and a complete eye and vision examination.

  3. Some day there will be thousands fo children giving thanks for all your work!

  4. There is a flaw with the bill. Vision screenings are inadequate and give parents a false sense of security. It happened to me some 35 years ago.

    My son was having difficulty in school. When I mentioned taking him for an eye exam, the teacher checked his file and informed that he had passed the vision screening and his eyes were okay. After talking with many people I took him for a comprehensive vision exam. He had a vison problem that interfered with learning. I worked to improve the situation for others.

    Finally in 2007 a law was passed in ILLinois requiring a vision exam before starting school. Is this enough….No, but it is a start. Studies show that there are one in four students in school with an undetected vision problem that interfers with learning. Children suffer needlessly in part due to vision screenings.

    I implore the legislators to do better for our children than what is being proposed.

  5. Every child should have the opportunity to get their eyes checked, and their vision checked. So often overlooked is eye care, that it ranks to be placed on the back of most insurance cards, as a little added plus. Let’s move forward to make eyes a standard check for children of all ages. Without them one has a hard time seeing the future.

  6. Thanks , Janet , so glad you are there for the children . Thanks !!!

  7. Dear Jan,

    Thank you for being the person you are. Because of your vision, so many more children will reach their full vision capacity.

    When God created you, he had a plan, as well as he does for all of us. Few of us leave this earth understanding why we were given the gift of life. Thank you Jan again.

    Always remember the people who fight us the hardest are the ones who need us the most. Hard to chew. Especially, when you know in your mind, some of the people you are exposed with do not care about our children, or us.


  8. […] A closer look at H.R. 577–Vision Care for Kids Act Nov. 26, 2009 The Vision Care for Kids Act of 2009 aims to provide $65,000,000 over the next five years. Grant money will be awarded as follow-up care to states participating in vision screenings. OUCH…vision screenings! Read more here… […]

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