Posted by: Janet Hughes | September 30, 2009

Eyes on You-Tube: Screening or Exam?

Vision screening or eye exam? Learn the difference and see what’s best. This video helped pass Illinois’ eye exam law and can help your state, too.

Produced by the Illinois Optometric Association (IOA) in 2004. Winner of the “Healthy Eyes, Healthy People” grant awarded by the National Eye Institute.

Save a child’s vision. Save a child’s future.

Join the Kids Eyes Count Campaign:

  • Know vision screening is not a substitute for an eye examination.
  • Make comprehensive eye and vision examinations by an eye doctor part of a child’s health care.
  • Keep eye care health and good vision habits a priority.

Join the “Kids Eyes Count” email list here!

For further information, please visit: www.VisionFirstFoundation.org.


Copyright (c) Janet Hughes. All rights reserved.

Posted by: Janet Hughes | August 31, 2009

AAP Vision Policy Gets NSF

j0284931Ever write a check only to have it returned NSF, Non-Sufficient Funds?

Banks issue NSF charges when account balances don’t cover the amount written on the check.

Today I’m issuing the vision policy by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) my spin on NSF: Non-Sufficient Facts.

August 2009, the AAP updated their 1998 policy on learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision.  The newly released policy statement made by top medical groups refutes vision therapy and the link between vision and learning for the fourth time in four decades. In other words, “Non-Sufficient Facts” abound here!

Here’s my list of the biggest “overdrawn” statements found in that AAP policy balanced by deposits:

1.) “Overdrawn” Statement: Children who exhibit signs of learning disabilities should be referred as early in the process as possible for educational, psychological, neuropsychological, and/or medical diagnostic assessments. (from Recommendations)

DEPOSIT: I’m surprised that in 2009, a possible vision problem isn’t ruled out first. It’s estimated that 80% of all learning comes through the eyes. Why aren’t complete eye and vision evaluations by vision experts such as those accredited with COVD included in this list with psychologists and neuropsychologists?

2.) “Overdrawn” Statement: Pediatricians and family physicians should perform periodic eye and vision screening for all children and refer those who do not pass screenings to ophthalmologists who are experienced in the care of children. (from Recommendations)

DEPOSIT: I’m surprised that in 2009, the AAP STILL recommends vision screenings in the medical home. The AAP 2008 Oral Health Policy recommends all children have a dental home by age 1, and that joint efforts be made with local dentists to support that dental home. The AAP is dedicated to the overall health of all children. Why doesn’t the AAP want to establish a VISION home for all children by age 1, and work together with the largest group of eye doctors—the optometrists?

3.) “Overdrawn” Statement: Other conditions may affect reading. Convergence insufficiency (CI) and poor accommodation, both of which are uncommon in children, can interfere with the physical act of reading but not with decoding. (from The Role of the Visual System and the Eyes)

DEPOSIT: Guess what. This policy also states: “The recommended vision screenings are unlikely to disclose near-vision problems such as convergence insufficiency, accommodative insufficiency, and significant hyperopia.” And the AAP recommends all children be screened in the medical home? The AAP policy references the latest study on CI from a medical journal but omits the publication from the Mayo Clinic. CI is uncommon in children? According to Mayo’s lead ophthalmologist and lead investigator in that study Dr. Brian Mahoney, convergence insufficiency IS common in children. Parents… KNOW that a vision screening is not a substitute for an eye examination. Read more about “Amy’s Law” here…

4.) “Overdrawn” Statement: Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be recommended. (from Abstract)

DEPOSIT: Oh my! Not endorsed and should not be recommended? It is unfair to the public to imply there is NO scientific evidence in support of vision therapy. Vision therapy does NOT claim to treat learning disabilities and dyslexia.  Vision therapy treats vision problems. Parents… there is evidence that vision therapy can improve a child’s vision. Check out these great success stories here…

5.) “Overdrawn” Statement: Ophthalmologists should identify and treat any significant ocular or visual disorder found to be present. (from Recommendations)

Deposit: Once more, why can’t the AAP work together with optometrists, too? I know pediatricians and ophthalmologists are medical doctors, and they refer to their own medical doctors but it’s the 21st century. Did you know the AAP enthusiastically promotes, supports, and protects breastfeeding? According to the 2005 policy, “the AAP firmly adheres to the position that breastfeeding ensures the best possible health as well as the best developmental and psychosocial outcomes for the infant.” Thanks to the AAP, I breastfed all five of my babies. The AAP did NOT do the breastfeeding. I did. Since the AAP partners with parents, and many parents value optometry and vision therapy, why can’t the AAP support optometric eye and vision care?

Fixing My Gaze by Susan R. Barry recounts fifty years of struggles with a vision problem until she discovered a behavioral optometrist. Thanks to a caring and competent eye doctor, vision therapy opened her eyes to a whole new world.

The 2009 AAP vision policy is filled with inconsistencies and misleading messages about children’s vision.

It is my hope and goal that pediatricians and ophthalmologists will embrace optometry and put the visual needs of children first.
 

Join the Kids Eyes Count Campaign!

  1. KNOW vision screening is not a substitute for an eye examination.
  2. MAKE comprehensive eye and vision examinations by an eye doctor part of a child’s health care.
  3. KEEP eye care health and good vision habits a priority.

Be on the Kids Eyes Count email list! Sign-up here… it’s free and easy!

Helpful websites:

College of Optometrists in Vision Development COVD’s website.

Wright’s Law Here you’ll find thousands of articles, cases, and resources for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.

Protecting students with disabilities Frequently asked questions about Section 504 and the education of children with disabilities.

Helpful articles:

Learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision: a subject review About the 1998 AAP policy.

The Toolbox Analogy The nuts and bolts of what optometry knows, education needs.

CB068069More about the 2009 AAP vision policy:

News from the American Optometric Association
Here’s what they have to say…

A flawed statement on vision therapy, learning and dyslexia reissued.

Statement on vision therapy outdated, flawed.

Photo Fixing My Gaze Book CoverOrder your copy of Fixing My Gaze by Susan R. Barry!

Susan recounts her struggles with learning as a child. Discover how she takes the medical establishment to task for not giving her parents the option of considering the benefits of optometric care.

A must read for anyone looking for hope and inspiration!

Order from Amazon here…


Copyright (c) 2009 Janet Hughes. All rights reserved.

Posted by: Janet Hughes | July 30, 2009

No deal. Final rule flawed.

j0396078Twenty-two months of hard work and high hopes for the Kids Eyes Count Campaign in Illinois ended this summer with “no deal.”

IDPH rejected the Vision First form, and JCAR approved a flawed rule.

The final State of Illinois Eye Examination Report was at last released along with the rulemaking for Illinois’ new eye exam law.

“No deal” is no surprise to Illinois.  August 2007, former Governor Blagojevich shocked supporters of better eye care for kids when he vetoed Senate Bill 641.

Two months later, Illinois legislators overrode his veto into law. Illinois became the third State in the nation to ensure all children starting school would have an eye exam by an eye doctor.

Too bad the intent of this law is not reflected in the final Rulemaking.  Our suggestions to improve the State of Illinois form were rejected, and our concerns about the proposed Rule were ignored.

Here is a brief summary:

  • The Rule for the vision law from 1987 was repealed. School boards will no longer be encouraged to adopt a policy of required eye exams along with required health exams at grades 6 and 9.  Isn’t academic learning estimated to be 80% visual?
  • Also repealed in that Rule for the Vision Law of 1987 was the assurance that children on free and reduced lunch would get an eye exam. Instead of seeking help from non-profit groups such as Vision First and the Lions Club, the State is now promoting a waiver or a reason NOT to have an eye exam!
  • When a child fails a school’s vision screening, parents will still receive the IDPH “Vision Examination Report.” I recommended this report be renamed to the what it really is… the IDPH “Vision Screening Report.”  I pointed out the doctor’s section should be replaced with the use of the new “Eye Examination Report.” Guess what? IDPH said they wanted ONE FORM and that there would only be ONE FORM for eye exams.  Geez… doesn’t this make two forms?

“No deal” IS a big deal.

I love this quote:  “If at first you don’t succeed, try another way.”

I can…

and I will.


Past posts about the Vision First form:

  New ImageHere’s the deal… “Illinois” Hold ’em Style! May 18, 2009
Millions of children’s eyes are at stake. So here’s the deal… This was my last attempt seeking approval of our Vision First form by the Illinois Department of Public Health before the rulemaking was final for Illinois’ new eye exam law… in “Illinois” Hold ‘em style!

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!



Check out this great video on a convergence insufficiency:

Copyright (c) 2009 Vision First Foundation. All rights reserved.
Posted by: Janet Hughes | June 30, 2009

Celebrating 7 Years on Vision Mission

42-15660713

When I was growing up, my beloved father was full of inspiration: “Find a need, and fill it.”

I valued his wisdom.  Surprisingly during the summer of 2002, my eldest daughter’s first eye exam found a serious problem that vision screenings missed!

Shocked at the eye doctor’s findings, I thought the vision screening “passed” the wrong child. Having read almost every book on parenting and motherhood, I did everything that was recommended or required by the pediatricians and school.  Why didn’t I know anything about children’s eye exams?

My family and I learned an important lesson that day; a lesson needed to be shared with everyone:  Vision screening is not a substitute for an eye exam by an eye doctor.

Yes… I found a need.  And for the past seven years, I’ve been inspired by my father to do all I can to fill it.

Today Illinois leads the nation with “Amy’s Law” and a required eye exam before starting school. My youngest son’s kindergarten registration packet will be complete with an eye exam form.  Every child across the nation deserves the same chance to ensure success.

I realize now the vision screenings didn’t pass the wrong child. The vision screenings passed the right child… mine!

Never underestimate your ability to make a difference.

Please join me on this mission.  Share your story with us.  Find answers, help, and hope here.  Make Vision First your mission, too.  Let’s bring children’s vision into the 21st century.

Together, we can make a difference in the eyes of every child.

 

Accomplishments listed here…

Make a difference here! Join the Kids Eyes Count email list…

 

Copyright (c) 2009 Vision First Foundation. All rights reserved.
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.
Posted by: Janet Hughes | April 29, 2009

Janet Wins Seat on Grade School Board

photo-schools-out-kidsOfficial results were posted today certifying four winners in the District 113A grade school board election.

I’m proud my running mates Tim Goodwin, Karen Siston, Al Malley, and I ran a clean and positive campaign. We exposed important issues and corrected a wrong when school officials failed to post the two-year unexpired term from 2007. Because the judge ruled in our favor, voters decided the fourth seat that I ended up winning!

I’m thrilled and honored to have the opportunity and privilege to serve our community on the Board of Education. I look forward to leading our school district in a new direction with my running mate Karen Siston.

Thank you again, Tim, Karen, and Al, for being exceptional friends and to all who supported our campaign for school board.

Posted by: Janet Hughes | April 19, 2009

Vision First form rejected?

“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.” —Anonymous

What is Mike Horstman's hidden agenda?

What is Mike Horstman's hidden agenda?

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.

Vision First is seeking the approval of the Preschool and Student Comprehensive Eye and Vision Examination Report as proof of an eye exam during the rulemaking of Illinois’ new eye exam law.

Horstman states in his letter dated November 5, 2008:  “We remain extremely concerned about the confusion, lack of coordination and expense that a multi-formed system will create and question the necessity.”   Read complete letter here…

Mr. Horstman questions the confusion, expense, and necessity of an alternate form?

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.

August 2003, Illinois became the first state with a vision screening disclaimer thanks to the unanimous passage of Senate Bill 805, Public Act 93-0504 or “Amy’s Law.” Parents would be informed that a vision screening is not a substitute for a complete eye and vision evaluation by an eye doctor and given a choice for an eye exam in place of a vision screening.  Vision exams would also be encouraged with the health exams.  Every state across America needs this same law.

September 2007, Illinois became the third state to require an eye exam for all children starting kindergarten (Public Act 95-0671). Read The Story Behind Senate Bill 641.

The Vision First form references the Vision and Hearing Test Act (Public Act 81-0174) and “Amy’s Law.” The rulemaking offers the opportunity for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and State Board of Education to prescribe the Vision First form for statewide use. Adding the Public Acts for the kindergarten requirement and the law from 1987 allows one report form to support four vision laws!

Mr. Horstman and the Illiniois Department of Public Health disagree.

Here are the objections countered by the voice of reason and common sense:

OBJECTION #1: “Section 27-8.1 of the School Code requires “uniform forms which the Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the State Board of Education (SBE) shall prescribe for statewide use. The Vision First form is different from the IDPH form.”

VOICE OF REASON AND COMMON SENSE: Of course it’s different! The Vision First form is written for the parent and teacher. The IDPH form is written for the doctor.  What’s wrong with that? Parents should have a choice.  Afterall, parents pay for the exam.

OBJECTION #2: “Approval of multiple forms will create confusion…”

VOICE OF REASON AND COMMON SENSE: It’s too late to prevent confusion. It already exists. Screenings are continually mistaken for exams.  Why is the State’s vision screening report entitled, “Vision Examination Report?” I recommended during First Notice that this report be retitled to “Vision Screening Report” with the examining doctor’s section removed since Illinois now has a report form for eye exams.  IDPH is keeping this vision report form.

OBJECTION #3: “Failure to report the eye examination on a ‘prescribed form’ would result in the parent requiring the provider to later complete the required form, for which there is often a charge at the doctor’s office.”

VOICE OF REASON AND COMMON SENSE: Vision First is seeking the approval from the State of Illinois for the Preschool and Student Comprehensive Eye and Vision Examination Report. Once approved, it will be stated on the form. See yellow section on sample form here. Do you think doctors who are licensed by the State should know what they’re doing?

OBJECTION #4: “The Department would have no control over changes made to the forms of outside entities, potentially causing confusion regarding the examination mandate.”

VOICE OF REASON AND COMMON SENSE: I disagree. Changes to the Vision First form would follow the same procedure as changes to the IDPH form under the Department’s authority.

OBJECTION #5: “Use of a single form allows more rapid assessment and reporting of data from schools to the State Board of Education, minimizing human error and time requirements for quality assurance.”

VOICE OF REASON AND COMMON SENSE: The eye exam law does not require an assessment of the various diagnoses. Rapid reporting produces accurate results? Let’s focus on what’s right and best for the children.

OBJECTION #6: “School nurses/health services coordinators/health departments and screeners who are charged with assuring that the eye examination has been completed are opposed to multiple forms and the confusion and added labor they would cause (see Joyce Iammartino, RN, et al).”

VOICE OF REASON AND COMMON SENSE: According to public records, only eleven school nurses and screeners objected to more than one form. Oddly, these emails were received after the October 20, 2008 deadline for public comments during First Notice. I read Joyce’s letter. She states, “It was my experience this year that the first examination form (IDPH form) was also confusing for parents and practitioners; the forms were rarely filled out by appropriate professionals and were seldom complete.”

It appears there is a great need for the Vision First form.

Here are the top ten benefits exclusive to the Vision First form:

• Designed for the parent and teacher.

• Provides education on children’s vision.

• Suitable for recommended and required eye exams.

• Emphasizes a comprehensive eye and vision examination.

• Illustrates eye health, visual acuity, refractive evaluation, and visual efficiency.

• Accompanies prewritten letters for schools.

• Contains a vision screening disclaimer.

• Includes a Reference Page for parents and teachers.

• Represents high standards of eye care.

• Brings meaning and purpose to an eye examination.

The Honorable Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and State Senator Christine Radogno, Illinois Deputy Republican Leader, 39 letters along with 1,048 persons from around the world supported the approval of the Vision First form during First Notice.

“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

“To the best children can be visually, and to the Department’s efforts to make it happen.” Dr. Floyd Mizener

“I think this entire project is more than worthwhile. It puts kids’ vision on the map; and it needs to stay there.” Ron

“What I like about the Vision First form is that more people are starting to see that vision is a big part of a child’s education.” Mary

“It is so important we all support this form and raise the standard of eye care our children deserve.” Janice

“This is the first I have heard of Vision First Foundation and having visited their website, am very impressed. Why would their forms be of any less value than the “State of Illiniois Eye Examination Report?” As long as a licensed physician has given the eye exam, what does it matter which form is used?” Pamela

“If the state is to adopt one form, make it the Vision First form!” Marian

“I think this would be an excellent form and resource for school age kids. Being a mother of 6 myself, this is what I’d want for my kids. Please use this form in schools for kids in their need for vision care and prevention.” Cynthia

“Illinois should accept the Vision First form. There is nothing wrong with it and it will help countless children.” Cecilia

“If the new form has more and better information, what is the problem?” Roy

“Opponents of required eye exams have kept state standards at the minimum. The State form is the minimum. The Vision First form ensures a complete exam by an eye doctor is performed. No child should experience school with an uncorrected vision problem… I am totally agreeing with the opinion above!” Eric

“It seems to me like your VFF Form should be the only form that is used. Keep up the great work!” Mark

“We need to protect our children and their future. The Vision First form puts the needs of the child first.” Rupe

“Janet…keep up the fight. This is important to our children.” Robert

“I feel this matter is important and the Vision First form should be used.” Feb

“Vision First? Brilliant idea!” Stephanie

“This should have happened many years ago.” Brad

“Aren’t the children important enough to be taken care of in this matter… please… help to pass this in every state… for all children.” Dee

“Doesn’t this make sense? Our son was considered a ‘slow reader’. Actually, it was a vision problem.” Geri

“Bureaucrats of America, shape up! The Vision First form is simpler and clearer.” Christoph

“We need the Vision First form because it makes the difference between screening and exam clear.” Mary Jay

“I feel that this is a better form than the standard document.” Robert

“The Vision First form and support materials will help the schools to utilize and promote the required vision exams. It is designed to go above and beyond the minimum and that is important when working with children’s vision.” Linda

“Ignoring this request would just give voters more reason to not trust the government with the well-being of our children, our future!” Heidi

“Early detection/Preserve Vision/Better Students.” Joseph

“The explanation to the parents on this form helps to demonstrate to them valuable information regarding their child’s visual health and well-being. Without this explanation, they look upon the requirement as just antoher hurdle to clear for no apparent reason.” Dennis

“I found that the pre-made letters available are a great resource for administrators who have to enforce parents/guardians to obtain the examination. By using the assortment of forms that are available saves them time and misunderstanding. The Vision First form is the way to go.” Audrey

“The Vision First form is a wonderful tool, has been well thought out, and ensures a comprehensive exam for each child.” Martina

“As an optometrist with a special interest in children’s vision, I prefer the Vision First form because it allows me to communicate more completely with the school nurse and teachers.” Kimberly

“The Vision First form goes into greater detail of testing in areas of visual efficiency skills, which are important in school performance. More students with significant vision problems will be identified by use of the Vision First form.” Natalie

“It is very important for the future of our youth. I only wish we could have had this back in my day. Do what’s RIGHT!” Michael

“I believe the Vision First form is awesome for kids, teachers, and parents trying to work on the same page (fulfilling the child’s needs).” Candace

“This critical subject needs support and attention – this will change lives.” Wendy

“As an educator and grandmother of a child who’s entire educational experience has been changed by vision therapy, I support the work of Janet Hughes.” Ella

“This is such a very good thing to support. Everyone’s vision should be a must for all. Our children are our future and to help them with vision is such a great cause.” Brenda

“Stongly in favor!” Srinivas

“Great move, I support whole heartedly.” Lakshmi

“I have used this form for at least the past two school years as a means of communication with school nurses. I find it very comprehensive and it has helped free up the nurses’ time by not screening children who have already had a comprehensive exam.” Shawna

“I am proud that Illinois has taken such a proactive stand for our children.” Ronald

“This is an awesome cause. I personally know a child whose eyesight is impaired now, but if she had the advantage of what this cause stands for she would have good vision now.” Debbie

“Why does it have to be such a hassle to get government approval for such an important thing as a child’s eyesight, especially with needy parents.” Tony

“Be a visionary and support this wonderful Vision First initiative. If you don’t see the importance of Vision First, please look into your heart and you’ll find the answer.” Greg

“Please pass the Vision First Foundation form. The Vision First form is easier to understand.” Laura

“We need the Vision First form to clarify the exam vs. screening. The Vision First form is clear and needed.” Jill

“Great idea!” Eric

“This is an important national issue and Illinois needs to lead the way.” Doug

“Although my kids are grown, my grandchildren are not. I wish for them the best, because I didn’t have that choice for mine. So, do the right thing for a change and make this form not only a law, but mandatory to be used. Then spread its usage thru-out the U.S. and maybe even international. Stop pretending to care about children and start being serious about them.” Larry

This comment broke my heart: “I was one of the unlucky children who went through school not able to see the blackboard or even my teacher. Needless to say, I failed all through school until the day I quit, with the blessings of everyone concerned, at the age of 16. I needed glasses. I did not get them. NO one cared. As a result…I am uneducated and poor. Please do not do this to other children. Please do not destroy any chance of a good job and a good life. ALL children need their eyes examined from year to year while in school.” Dolores

Thank you, Dolores… you sealed my commitment to this cause and the Vision First form.

I care…

Vision First cares…

We hope all of you do, too.

Vision First will be promoting the Kids Eyes Count Campaign once the rulemaking is complete for Public Act 95-0671.  It is our hope and goal that the State of Illinois will recognize our efforts and accept the Vision First form during the rulemaking process. The rulemaking is scheduled for adoption at the meeting for JCAR review on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. in Springfield.

Support the use of the Vision First form.

Support the approval of the Vision First form as proof of an eye exam.

Past posts about the Vision First form:

website-photo-amy-and-mommy-in-20011Vision 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.

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! This is my favorite post.




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.

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-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.

Copyright (c) 2009 Vision First Foundation. All rights reserved.
Posted by: Janet Hughes | April 13, 2009

Good News & Bad News

photo-utube-rickjess-picture

Listen here!

GOOD NEWS: The election is over and I can breathe again.
BAD NEWS: Low voter turnout showed at the polls. Running mate Karen Siston and I were the only newcomers on our slate to beat two incumbents and unofficially win seats on the District 113A school board. Official results will be posted after the absentee and provisional ballots are counted on April 28. Right now, I’m ahead of an incumbent seeking his third term by six votes. More details on our campaign website here…

CB049346GOOD NEWS: Today I remember the late Dr. Irving Kernis on his birthday and his quest for our Vision First form for eye exams.
BAD NEWS: The proposed rule went to second notice during my run for school board.  I’m sorry to inform you that the Vision First form was rejected. Published April 3, 2009 in the Illinois Register, the rulemaking is scheduled for adoption at the meeting for JCAR review on April 21, 2009.

Janet and Mike Horstman

Janet and Mike Horstman

GOOD NEWS: The Honorable Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and State Senator Christine Radogno, Illinois Deputy Republican Leader, along with 1,048 persons from around the world supported the approval of the Vision First form during First Notice. The Illinois Optometric Association also adopted a resolution in 2007 to support the mission of Vision First.
BAD NEWS: Michael Horstman, executive director of the Illinois Optometric Association, and eleven school nurses and screeners objected to the approval of more than one form that could be used as proof of an eye exam excluding our Vision First form that would help many, many children. Read more here…

What’s going on?

More updates and critical information coming soon.

Copyright (c) 2009 Vision First Foundation. All rights reserved.
Posted by: Janet Hughes | March 21, 2009

Janet Seeks First Term on Grade School Board

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Janet at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

Cheers!  I’m thrilled to announce my candidacy for the April 7, 2009 grade school board election with running mates Tim Goodwin, Karen Siston, and Al Malley.  Together, we hope to unseat the four incumbents running and lead District 113A in a new direction.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” is one of my favorite quotes. Ghandi’s wisdom inspires me to get involved. As a former full-time teacher who is now a stay-at-home mother of five children, I know the important role parents and teachers play in a child’s life.

Volunteering for the school board is a great way to be a part of the solution. Providing the best education reaps rewards not only for our children, but also for our community.

This is an important election. Eight candidates are vying for four seats. Four vacancies on a seven-member board offer the opportunity of the majority vote on important issues facing our schools today.

Recently, my running mates and I took action to correct a ballot error. The problem occurred when school officials failed to post the two-year unexpired term. February 23, 2009, “Vote for 3” with a Board appointed fourth member was rejected in court. A federal judge ruled in our favor. Voters will now decide all four seats at the April 7 election. The ruling set a precedent for voters’ rights in elections nationwide.

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The Hughes children

I’m motivated to make a difference in education. As founder and president of the non-profit group Vision First Foundation, children’s welfare is a priority to me. I authored and ensured the passage of an Illinois PTA resolution, amendment to the National PTA Position Statement Elements of Comprehensive Health Programs, and the Illinois Association of School Boards Belief Statement Number Twelve. I’m also the parent behind Illinois’ two recent laws for children’s eye exams and America’s leading advocate for children’s vision at Janet’s Journal.

Effective school boards are fiscally responsible and transparent. This is the largest issue facing the District 113A Board. My running mates and I will stop deficit spending and restore efficiency with our tax dollars. We will also set district policies that support transparency in government, accountability, and the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

I’m passionate about leading our school district to be one of the best in the area and in Illinois. My extensive experience and background as an educator, parent, and advocate will be an asset to a school board.  I will work hard for the benefit of all.

Together, my running mates and I will connect with the community and bring renewed openness, integrity, and trust to the district.

I will continue to be a strong voice for high standards, responsible government, and solid quality programs for our students.

Janet and Muffin

Janet and Muffin

I encourage you to learn all you can about your school board candidates and vote for the people who will best represent you.

Your vote counts and can make a difference!

Thank you for your support of our candidacy.

My running mates and I look forward to serving our community as Lemont-Bromberek CSD 113A Board of Education members.

Please visit our website at:  Reaching the Stars for our Children and Schools.

goldstar.gif picture by catmanwillgoldstar.gif picture by catmanwillgoldstar.gif picture by catmanwillgoldstar.gif picture by catmanwill

Lemont’s winning school board picks,
We’re on the ballot as third through sixth.

Change we need to make our schools great,
Vote April 7th. Vote center and straight!

Vote for 4
1.
2.
3. Janet Hughes
4. Timothy L. Goodwin
5. Karen Siston
6. Al Malley

7.
8.

Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible. —Anonymous

Lemont-Bromberek CSD 113A is governed by a seven-member Board of Education. Each member is an elected official who serves a four-year term of office or is appointed when a vacant seat occurs. School board elections are held in the spring of each odd calendar year.

The purpose of the board is to set and monitor the school district budget, review and amend district policies, and hire the district superintendent.

Posted by: Janet Hughes | February 1, 2009

What’s Going On?

Marvin Gaye’s classic hit describes my thoughts and feelings about many things wrong in our world today. Where is love, peace, and doing what’s right? Children suffer enough from crime and abuse. Hidden vision problems doesn’t need to be one more.

Amblyopia (lazy eye) is the leading cause of vision loss in children and young adults. Vision screenings do not diagnose amblyopia or any other eye or vision problem. Why are vision screenings promoted? What’s going on?

5 DPT or DPaT doses; 4 Polio doses; 1-4 Hib doses; 3 Hepatitis-B doses; 2 Measles doses; 2 Varicella doses; 1 Mumps dose; and 1 Rubella dose. These typical vaccines are required for all children starting kindergarten. Experts estimate learning in school is 80% visual. Why aren’t eye exams by an eye doctor included? What’s going on?

Federal bill H.R. 577 wants to spend 65 million dollars on vision screening referrals. National Eye Institute’s VIP Study reports vision screenings failed to refer 32 to 63% of vision problems. Why are ineffective programs continued? What’s going on?

Illinois is the only state with a vision screening disclaimer or “Amy’s Law.” Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois are the only states with required eye exams for children starting school. North Carolina passed the same law in 2005 but it was repealed the next year. The Department of Public Health (DPH) hasn’t approved the rule for Illinois’ new kindergarten requirement. Is this the 1800’s or the 21st century? What’s going on?

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), and American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) denounce optometric vision care and vision therapy. Published in a Position Paper in 1972, 1981, and 1998, medicine advocates vision screenings and ignores the evidence of the link between vision and learning, and classroom struggles. Why are these medical doctors misleading parents, educators, and legislators? What’s going on?

Thank you Marvin Gaye and the MTV All Stars for this great song. I agree with you.

What’s going on?

There IS a better way.

Help us raise the standards of eye care. Join the Kids Eyes Count email list here.

For more information on “Amy’s Law,” eye exams, and vision screenings, please visit the Vision First website.
 

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

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