Does the government always help with vision care?
California’s well intended proposed AB 1110 requires kids to be examined by an eye doctor upon entering school. But does it help? The bill is supposed to identify kids with vision conditions that may interfere with learning. It sounds good on the surface, doesn't it? Yet, what eye doctors have the skills to detect and treat visually related learning problems? The answer may surprise you.
During the late 30's Dartmouth College did a study and found students with the worst visual acuities (eyesight) had the best grades. The study found school screening selected the wrong kids and missed the kids for which the screening was intended. Yet, traditional eye doctors, kept the same visual acuity school screening! The outdated flawed screening exists today. Yes, it still picks out the best students and gives false assurance to those who passed the screening and struggle in school!
It was developmental optometrists, who after observing the results of the Dartmouth study, created better screening, testing, and treatments for visually related learning problems. Developmental optometrists can identify kids with visually related learning problems then provide methods, often simple, to treat them. The same treatment also prevents vision problems like nearsightedness.
However, developmental optometrists only comprise about 5% of all eye doctors. The good news is they are growing rapidly.
Thus, 95% of eye doctors don’t have knowledge about vision and learning or don’t believe in it. The traditional doctors may miss a visually related learning problem. After all, the eye doctor said I had 20/20 "vision"; and the learning problem could not be a vision problem.
That leaves children's help to only special education and tutoring. The special education and tutoring may have been unnecessary or needed less, had the visually related learning problem been discovered and treated...
Further, doctors not trained in visually related learning problems may unwittingly prescribe glasses that interfere with learning and contribute to the current nearsightedness epidemic.
Parents are forced to pay for an exam that may not detect what the bill is intended to find. Currently many patients I see were told by another doctor their vision had nothing to do with their learning difficulty because they had 20/20 visual acuity. This bill would only increase that number.