Minnesota Optometric Association stresses importance of eye exams
The Minnesota Optometric Association wants Minnesota families to know children now have access to better eye care and are eligible for annual comprehensive eye exams. Children’s eye and vision care is one of the 10 essential health benefits covered in the Affordable Care Act, which became effective in January 2014.
Starting in 2014, all new and state exchange-based health plans must cover an annual comprehensive eye exam and treatment, including eyeglasses, from birth to at least age 18. Parents should check with their health plan for details. For the first time, the federal government is recognizing eye-health care for children as essential and is linking both medical eye care and vision care together under the same plan.
Studies over two decades show there is a public-health emergency with respect to children’s health in the United States because millions of children are not receiving comprehensive eye examinations necessary for detection of eye disorders. Eye health is essential for school readiness, since 80 percent of all learning is through vision.
“Parents should not delay scheduling school-age children’s eye exams,” said Dr. Nicholas Colatrella, PineCone Vision Center, Sartell, and president-elect of the Minnesota Optometric Association. “Early detection and treatment is vital for prevention of vision loss and learning-related problems, and vision screenings are not a substitute for comprehensive eye exams. Also, a vision problem may be misdiagnosed as a learning disability.”
Healthy eyes and vision are key to a child’s ability to learn, play sports and interact successfully now and throughout all phases of life. Such refractive conditions as hyperopia and eye disorders such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus can be detected in a comprehensive eye exam.
An eye exam is not a screening, which only checks for far vision. A comprehensive eye exam is performed by an eye doctor (optometrist ophthalmologist) and includes a medical history. It includes an internal examination to observe the inner parts of the eye such as the retina and optic nerve. It measures visual performance at several distances and levels. It tests for proper near-point focusing and alignment, which impacts a student’s ability to efficiently read or write. It assesses binocular fusion, which is the ability of the eyes to work together. It includes color-vision testing. It evaluates depth perception and the eyes’ ability to work together to track across a page accurately while reading or copying material. It detects eye diseases like amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus, and it my detect systemic conditions that may be present like juvenile diabetes and juvenile arthritis
The Minnesota Optometric Association has almost 400 member doctors of optometry around the state. The MOA is committed to furthering awareness of optometrists as primary eye care or family eye doctors and to bringing about change that positively impacts the MOA member doctors and their patients. For more information on the MOA visit http://Mnnesota.aoa.org.