New Jersey Senate Education Committee Passes Bill Requiring Eye Exams for All Children Before Kindergarten
Bill Introduced by Kids See: Success, a Vision Impact Institute and Optometry Giving Sight Partnership
Trenton, N.J. – December 11, 2018 – The New Jersey Legislature’s Senate Education Committee has officially passed SB 2804, a bill directing the State Board of Education to require children aged 6 and under who are entering public schools or Head Start Programs for the first time to have a comprehensive eye examination completed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist by January 1 of their initial year of enrollment. The bill was sponsored by Senators Teresa Ruiz and Shirley Turner, and co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Diegnan and Troy Singleton.
“According to experts, up to 80 percent of all learning occurs visually, meaning that children with poor vision are likely to have a major disadvantage when starting school. We’re grateful that the Senate Education Committee is committed to the future of our students by advocating for their vision right from the start,” said Kristan Gross, Global Executive Director of the Vision Impact Institute. “Ensuring that children have the vision services they need from the beginning is key, and the Committee’s vote to pass this bill is a vote for the future of these young people.”
By 2050, the number of people with myopia (shortsightedness) is expected to reach almost 5 billion, spanning races and cultures. For children, increased screen time and minimal outdoor time are resulting in more children with myopia – and at a much younger age than in the past. While vision screenings can detect some problems, more serious vision issues may go undetected, including binocular vision problems and amblyopia (lazy eye), which can cause vision loss in children. A comprehensive eye exam can help to detect and treat all of these conditions before they become greater issues.
“The decision to pass this legislation is the work of so many partners. When we started the Kids See: Success initiative, in partnership with Optometry Giving Sight and others, we knew it would be the power of partnership that could bring this issue to the forefront,” added Gross. “Now, the additional collaboration of new legislative advocates, teachers, school administration professionals and parents will be the catalyst that can turn this legislation into action. Children have a fundamental right to see clearly and achieve full academic success in the classroom. SB 2804 ensures that New Jersey children will have that opportunity.”