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The ACA and pediatric eye care

The Affordability Care Act, is frequently referred to as Obamacare

It is important for parents, pediatricians, other healthcare professionals, educators, childcare providers, education providers, churches, and nonprofit organizations to be aware of the pediatric eye care benefit. It is important that a child see an eye care professional early and often in order to detect any visual or ocular concerns before they affect the child’s quality of life.

Pediatrician vision screenings

One of the common misconceptions working against eyecare professionals is that the pediatrician’s screening is an adequate exam for a child. Pediatricians frequently miss identifying vision disorders due to time constraints.  We are not bashing pediatricians. Pediatricians test children of different ages—a 3-year-old child and a 9-year-old child, for example—in the same manner. The expectations for a toddler vs. an elementary-age child are different, however, yet the screenings in a pediatrician’s office remain the same.  In addition, more and more children are using digital devices in school, but they are not being tested at near.  Screenings often do not lead to a diagnosis or treatment and do not test processes needed for the classroom. The essential eyecare benefit emphasizes the need for children to see an optometrist as soon as possible. 

The importance of parent education

Parents need to understand that a comprehensive eye exam tests more than visual acuity.  All too frequently parents say: ‘But this doctor says his vision is fine,’ as if the only thing to vision is 20/20,”

It is important that the doctor take a thorough history, check binocular function, refraction, and ocular health.

Here are a few physical symptoms parents should aware of that may signal a problem:

  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye strain/pain
  • Motion/car sickness

Reaching out to healthcare and community partners

Outside of a child’s family, other gatekeepers can help protect a child’s vision and ocular health.  Teachers, school employees, and educational psychologists need to understand the role a vision problem can play on a child’s school performance. Educators also need to know what kinds of problems to look out for, so they can raise the alarm if need be.

One in six children are two or more grade levels behind.  60 percent of children with learning disabilities have some kind of undiagnosed vision problem. Symptoms teachers and parents should be looking for are:

  • Losing place when reading
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Letter and number reversal
  • Poor spelling ability
  • Difficulty learning letters and numbers (This is even more common because the demand has increased for kindergarten students, who are expected to read at this level.)