PROOS: Students advocate for student vision testing

Published 7:26 am Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Last year, I was contacted by the CW Tech Robotarians about a team member who suffered from undiagnosed vision problems for years.

He was finally diagnosed with convergence insufficiency, finished treatment for the disorder and is doing fine.

CI is a vision disorder in which the eyes do not work together while focusing on a nearby object. Students with CI can struggle to concentrate and have difficulty with reading. Unfortunately, standard eye tests do not always uncover disorders like CI. As a result, parents or teachers then suspect that a child has a learning disability instead of a vision problem.

The CW Tech robotics team — made up of students from Watervliet, Coloma and other area schools — launched the CI Awareness Campaign last year to inform elected officials and school leaders about the condition, and encourage them to implement CI screening in elementary schools.

This week, the team visited the Capitol to testify in front of the Senate Health Policy Committee in support of legislation I co-sponsored to ensure Michigan students who fail a vision screening get a comprehensive eye exam.

Senate Bill 411 would require a comprehensive eye and vision exam as the next step for a child who fails their already required grade school vision screening or is identified as a struggling reader by a qualified individual.

It is critical to successful learning that students have clear vision, or that schools and parents have a plan for helping or treating children with vision issues.

Catching and treating children’s vision problems early can help improve academic performance and enhance their quality of life. It also could help save families and schools the costs of unnecessary medical care and special education. All of this can happen by simply requiring children who fail a standard vision test to get a comprehensive eye exam.

I thank the CW Tech Robotarians for contacting me about this important issue, and for all their efforts in support of their teammate and all Michigan students.

JOHN PROOS, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.