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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Mandatory eye check up for kindergarten pupils nationwide pushed
Writer: Lorelei V. Castillo, Media Affairs and Public Relations Service
09 June 2016 09:21:38 AM

A re-elected lawmaker has vowed to re-file in the 17th Congress a measure proposing the mandatory vision screening of kindergarten pupils nationwide.

Rep. Alfredo D. Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City) underscored that vision screening is an efficient and cost-effective method to identify visually-impaired children.

“Early detection of vision problems is very important and has a considerable impact on the life of the student. Poor vision in childhood affects performance in school and may have a negative effect on the future of the child,” Vargas said.

Vargas said children below six years old are mostly unaware of what a “normal” vision is. They are unlikely to complain of vision problems.

“Since vision is closely linked to a child’s learning process, undetected learning-related vision problems may lead to trouble with the student’s schoolwork. A vision problem noticed at the stage of adolescence may lead to more serious eye disorders, like blindness, if left untreated,” Vargas said.

According to Vargas, the initiative contained in House Bill 6459 that he filed in the 16th Congress, also aims to create a referral system in order for visually impaired students to be checked for further evaluation and treatment.

Under the measure to be known as the “National Vision Screening Act,” a National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) is established under the Department of Education (DepEd) to screen the eye vision of kindergarten pupils.

The NVSP aims to identify early childhood visual problems and to provide immediate attention to visually impaired kindergarten pupils, and create a referral system so that they may be checked and treated by eye practitioners.

It also intends to develop a vision screening results database for all kindergarten pupils and conduct continuing research on the state of visual impairment among these preschoolers.

Under the bill, the DepEd shall be the lead implementing agency for the NVSP.

In coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI), DepEd is tasked to administer the vision-screening program to all public kindergarten pupils.

The DepEd is also tasked to develop a system of referral and corrective measures for kindergarten pupils who are suspected or diagnosed to have eye ailments, as well as create a vision-screening database wherein the results of the screening of each child could be found.

The bill creates a Vision Screening Continuing Research (VSCR) Fund to be sourced from donations or bequests made to the DepEd in favor of the NVSP. The VSCR Fund will fund the PERI’s continuing research program into childhood-related eye vision ailments. Any donations made to the DepEd, DOH or PERI shall; be exempt from donor’s tax.