Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation
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News Release
Investment in vision screening will help struggling students - 08/02/17

SALEM, August 2, 2017 -- With many children struggling early in their school years due to undiagnosed vision issues, a simple investment can make a world of difference for thousands of Oregon's young people.

Oregon Senate Bill 187 -- which was unanimously approved and passed by both the Oregon House and Senate and was signed into law today by Governor Kate Brown -- helps to address that issue by allocating $1 million to cover vision screenings for students in public school districts and preschools statewide.

"As a member of an Oregon Lions Club, I was delighted to support Senate Bill 187. The new law and funding will help expand vision screening for Oregon's school children," said Sen. Betsy Johnson, of Scappoose.

The new law establishes the Vision Health Account and directs the Oregon Department of Education to reimburse public schools and preschool programs for costs associated with vision screening for students. It also allows the Oregon Department of Education to designate non-profit providers to administer the screenings and adopt administrative rules for prioritizing grants if reimbursement requests exceed the allotted amount. Gifts and outside grants can be used to supplement the account, which will include $1 million in state funding.

Vision is critical to a child's ability to learn, as 80 percent of all learning during a child's first 12 years comes through vision, according to written testimony submitted by the Oregon Optometric Physicians Association during the committee process. That same document adds that 25 percent of school-age children have vision problems, and 60 percent of students identified as problem learners have undetected vision problems. The picture gets more bleak, according to the report, when vision problems go undiagnosed, as 70 percent of juvenile offenders have undiagnosed vision problems.

Doug Thompson, Executive Director of the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, who requested the bill, said: "The passage of this law will ensure that more Oregon students that need them will get eye exams and new eyeglasses, they will see better and read at grade level, and they will be more likely to succeed in school and graduate from high school. This is a real win for Oregon's children!"

The new law takes effect immediately.