New Jersey Assembly Passes Bill Requiring Comprehensive Eye Exams for Children Entering Kindergarten
Today, the New Jersey State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 4310. The bill requires children, age six and younger, who are entering a public preschool, public school, or a Head Start Program for the first time, to have a comprehensive eye examination by January 1 of the child’s first year of enrollment in the school or program. The legislation will now move to Governor Murphy’s desk for final signature.
Work on the legislation began in 2016 with the creation of the Kids See: Success initiative, a partnership of the Vision Impact Institute, Optometry Giving Sight and others. Over time support expanded to new legislators, vision advocates (including advocates such as NJSOP, teachers, school administration professionals and parents.
With the school year drawing to a close and students and teachers thinking about final results, the legislation is particularly relevant. Today, 25 percent or one in four children in the United States have uncorrected vision and would benefit from a simple pair of eyeglasses. 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.
While many states have vision screening programs, research shows that required vision screenings are not enough to diagnose all vision problems and eye health issues. With the passage of this bill, legislators in New Jersey are taking a leadership position that will benefit all of the state’s children.