AOA remains focused on what’s best for kids
While proponents of limited testing continue to market children's vision screenings to the public, the AOA remains focused on what is best for kids: ensuring that a growing number of children have direct access to early and periodic comprehensive eye exams provided by an eye doctor.
Nothing can replace a comprehensive eye exam.
Through efforts such as the Think About Your Eyes (TAYE) consumer advertising campaign and the AOA-backed pediatric vision essential benefit under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the AOA is stepping up for kids and families. TAYE is successfully raising awareness of the need for parents to seek out regular eye and vision care for their kids. Under the ACA, private payers in every state may be required to cover comprehensive eye exams and eyeglasses for children as essential health care benefits, linking medical eye and vision care together under the same plan.
Members can already see how pediatric eye care is shaping children's scholastic successes (read more in the July/August 2014 edition of AOA Focus).
Parsing the importance of a comprehensive eye exam
Nearly all tasks a child is asked to perform in the classroom depend on good visual skills, which can only be assessed through a comprehensive eye examination. While schools or pediatricians may provide periodic vision screenings, these screenings often miss more than they find.
Because of vision screenings' particularly low sensitivity and selective testing, many children may pass the screening while having undetected vision disorders, delaying further examination and profoundly affecting children's quality of life. These screenings can't substitute for regular professional care, which is the only effective way to confirm or rule out the presence of eye diseases or problems.
Further, even for those children whose problems are detected in a screening, there is no diagnosis and treatment initiation. The majority of those who fail will not receive the appropriate treatment or will have a delay in treatment for months or years, which can jeopardize a child's academic success.
The comprehensive eye examinations performed by optometrists and incorporated into the pediatric essential benefit offer immeasurable benefits over simple screenings, including:
- Ability to collect patient and family health history
- Observation of visible eye problems
- Tests of visual function and eye health
- Assessment of refractive status
- Evaluation of eye movement and focusing abilities
- Eye health examination, and additional testing
- Needed eye and vision care can begin immediately
Nothing can replace a comprehensive eye exam, and the AOA continues to advocate for increased accessibility of children to receive these life-changing exams.