Massachusetts is the national leader in children’s health with 98% of children covered by health insurance. Healthy children are able to learn and succeed in school. However, there is a critical area that holds some Massachusetts children back from the natural success of their peers — their inability to see clearly words on a blackboard or in a book.
An NIH-funded research reports a significant correlation between the status of a preschool child’s vision and his/her success in acquiring early literacy skills necessary for learning to read. Massachusetts children with undetected vision problems that could be easily treated, all too frequently continue through their school years without treatment.
Right now, we do not know how many Massachusetts children are struggling to learn just because of an untreated vision disorder, or lack of follow-up eye care. There is no statewide system for collection of vision screening results, or data for surveillance or evaluation, to support case management activities.
Establishing a rigorous children’s vision health system will lead to better resource allocation for school districts and public health interventions, improved access benefitting overall child health, and provide opportunities, especially educational opportunities for students, that may otherwise go unrealized.
Assuring optimal vision for every child is solvable. We need help from the Commonwealth’s legislators to close the significant gaps in access, resources and awareness within the current system of pediatric vision care in Massachusetts.