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June 13, 2017
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State Education Department, NYS Senate and NYS Assembly Highlight Critical Role Vision Plays In Education and Promote Healthy Eyecare

New York State Proclaims October 2017 as School Health Vision Month 

The New York State Education Department, the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly today highlighted the critical role proper vision plays in children’s physical, cognitive and social development, with both the New York State Senate and Assembly passing resolutions proclaiming October 2017 as School Health Vision Month. This month will raise awareness about providing accessible visual care and resources to those who are in need.

“To succeed in school, children must be provided with quality and comprehensive eye care from a licensed professional,” Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “Physicians, optometrists, opticians and other health professionals licensed by the New York State Education Department play a vital role in ensuring overall eye health and appropriate vision correction. Access to proper vision can solve not only learning issues but behavioral issues as well, enhancing the overall learning environment and allow all students to learn with their full potential.”

“We must recognize that access to proper vision care is a serious concern; statistics show that more than 10 percent of children have not had new or replacement glasses due to unaffordable costs,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “I am so glad to be a part of this initiative to advocate visual health and to provide information and resources to help students in need of proper eye care.”

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, said, “My thanks to the NYS Education Department for its support and leadership. Our state must continue to support the health of every student. Vision assessment, screenings and treatment where necessary are essential to learning.”

Senator Carl L. Marcellino, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, said, “When a student is struggling with their vision, it is impossible for them to succeed in the classroom. Visual health is a critical component to a child’s overall educational performance.  Every student deserves access to quality vision care and as a State we must take every step to provide resources and information to make it happen.”

In October, the State Education Department will work to bring together experts in vision care to certain schools across the State to help screen students, provide education and resources and promote healthy eye care during the month of October. Research shows that one in four school-age children has a vision disorder, which impacts his or her ability to properly learn.

The Department licenses all vision professionals, including physicians, optometrists and ophthalmic dispensers, assuring that New Yorkers receive competent and professional eye care. This initiative will provide the necessary awareness to encourage parents to bring their children to an eye care professional. There are certain tests that school vision screenings will not provide, however they are fundamental for a child to succeed in school. There are also certain warning signs parents can look out for such as: avoiding or not liking reading; short attention span; difficulty copying from a chalkboard; pulling a book in close to their face; lots of blinking or eye rubbing; guiding their eyes with a finger or pencil while reading; and falling performance in school.

The American Optometric Association recommends that children see an eye care professional at six months, three years and around five years old. After that, an eye exam should be scheduled at least once a year.