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CA Politician and Optometrists Partner for Students’ Vision, Success

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(PRESS RELEASE) SACRAMENTO, CA – Asm. Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) introduced legislation that aims to boost the learning potential of California’s students by sending them to school with healthy eyes and clear vision on the first day of class.  AB 2444 (Burke) is sponsored by the State Board of Optometry and strongly supported by the California Optometric Association (COA).

“AB 2444 empowers parents to take crucial steps for their children’s health and school success,” said Asm. Burke. “Too many children are labeled with behavioral or learning problems simply because they can’t focus on the blackboard or school work.  It’s important parents know the care that can help students see clearly and thrive in the classroom comes at little or no cost through their health insurance plans.”

AB 2444 would include information on good vision and student eye health in the school enrollment packets parents receive.

“California’s optometrists are proud to partner with Assemblymember Burke to ensure more students receive the kind of comprehensive eye examinations that detect the full range of vision problems that can hamper student success,” said COA President Dr. Ranjeet S. Bajwa.  “Eye doctors are also a first line of defense against serious health problems like diabetes and eye cancers, another reason optometrists urge parents to schedule comprehensive examinations before school starts.” 

A comprehensive eye examination performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist is the gold standard in eye care for young people. Unfortunately, many parents are not aware that vision problems can begin in early age or that California’s public and private health insurance plans already provide comprehensive eye exams and glasses to children.  

For students who receive the most basic, in-school vision screenings, AB 2444 helps connect them with necessary follow-up care needed when vision problems are detected. Lastly, the bill creates a pilot program in participating school districts that will promote early detection of eye and vision problems to improve students’ educational outcomes. The latter provision is an important step forward for reducing the number of disabling vision problems that impede learning. School-based screenings (the big “E” eye test) don’t test for many common vision problems that can hamper students’ progress in the classroom.

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“Vision disorders are the most prevalent childhood disability,” said Rachel Michelin, Board Member of the California State Board of Optometry, “but it doesn’t have to be that way. This bill will create opportunities for more students to have the examinations and care they need to read and succeed.”  

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