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Iowa ‘Student Vision Card’ program mobilizes educators, schools and nurses, encourages eye exams for children

October 27, 2012

The Iowa Optometric Association’s Student Vision Cards are completed by Iowa optometrists after providing eye exams for preschool and kindergarten children. Cards are then returned to school nurses or teachers for their records.

In 2011, Iowa eye care professionals saw more than 1,000 children who had never had eye exams before, and of these, 30 percent needed some type of vision correction. That’s why Iowa’s Student Vision Card program is so important, because it reaches parents and guardians of children ages 5 years and younger, encouraging them to schedule eye exams before school starts.

Promoted through the Iowa Optometric Association (IOA) and by Iowa School Nurse Association conference staff, last year the program distributed Student Vision Cards to 1,552 preschools, 730 public schools and 140 private schools.

In Iowa, and in accordance with Senate File 2251 – the Student Eye Care Act, it is required that a Student Vision Card be placed in ALL preschool and kindergarten packets. The Student Vision Card states, “As part of your back-to-school preparations, it is recommended that you take your child and this card to your family eye doctor for a complete eye health examination.”

The Iowa Department of Education communicates the law to school nurses for the IOA. Then, the IOA sends the Student Vision Card mailing to preschools, public and private schools. To help promote the program, the IOA also attends school nurse conferences throughout the year. While it is not required that children receive a comprehensive eye exam, the Student Vision Card program is a big step in educating parents on the importance of healthy eyes as it relates to their child’s ability to learn.

Student Vision Cards are completed by Iowa ODs after providing eye exams for preschool and kindergarten children. Cards are then returned to school nurses or teachers for their records. The postage-paid portion of the card allows ODs to provide IOA tracking information such as the child’s grade, school, town, if this was a first visit to an eye care professional, if there is vision correction needed, and if there are any medical issues.

In support of the Student Vision Card program, this year the IOA received a Healthy Eyes Healthy People® grant to help with card printing costs. Congratulations to Jill Gonder and the IOA for receiving a HEHP grant for the Student Vision Card program. For more information, contact the IOA at 800-444-1772.

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