by Melanie K. Langford, O.D.
Optometrists have always recommended that children of all ages have comprehensive eye exams in addition to their school and pediatric screenings.
While vision screenings at school or at the pediatrician’s office can detect vision problems, they do not check for binocular vision or eye health problems. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of children in the U.S. now have access to comprehensive eye exams.
The pediatric essential health benefit (EHB) was formed to allow children to have full comprehensive eye exams in order to detect vision problems that could result in permanent vision loss due to eye diseases, high prescriptions, and binocular vision problems.
The main goal is to reduce amblyopia, which is decreased eyesight due to abnormal visual development. When the ACA debuted, enrollment numbers were low, but now that this law is in place, more than 10 million people of all ages have signed up for health insurance.
Patients with amblyopia may fall behind in school due to poor reading skills. Because more than 80% of learning is derived from vision, they may not only have difficulty in school but also have a high failure rate in the workforce. It was these facts that impacted the ACA’s decision to include pediatric comprehensive exams as one of the 10 essential health benefits.
Optometric and pediatric ophthalmology guidelines recommend first eye exams between the ages of six and 12 months, then again at both three and six years old.
For more information go to these websites:
American Optometric Association http://thinkaboutyoureyes.com/about
College of Optometrists in Vision Development: www.covd.org
Source: Review of Optometry