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Mandatory vision screening for kindergarten pupils proposed.

A lawmaker is pushing for mandatory vision screening of kindergarten pupils for the early detection and treatment of "lazy eye" or amblyopia.

Pangasinan Rep. Kimi S. Cojuangco said the government's intervention could help save Filipino children suffering from amblyopia from being permanently blind or visually impaired.

"The condition is treatable, with a high success rate if done before the age of 7. This declines significantly beyond that age. When the opportunity passes, amblyopic children most likely end up with permanent visual impairment. At worst, they can get blind," she said in filing House Bill 5190.

She explained that lazy eye or amblyopia "is often caused by a high degree of disparity in refractive power of the eyes and that the prevalence figures range from two to five percent of all children."

Under the measure, Cojuangco proposes the creation of the National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) to screen the eye vision of kindergarten pupils.

The NVSP seeks to identify early childhood visual problems and to provide immediate attention to visually impaired kindergarten pupils. It also creates a system of referral and corrective measures for kindergarten pupils who are suspected or diagnosed with eye ailments.

HB 5190 tasks Department of Education (DepEd) to lead the implementation of the NVSP, in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI).

The vision-screening program shall be administered to all public kindergarten pupils subject to the written consent from the kindergarten pupils' parents or legal guardians.

Cojuangco's bill also mandates the creation of a vision-screening database wherein results of the screening per child can be found.

A Vision Screening Continuing Research (VSCR) Fund shall also be created under the measure to fund the PERI's continuing research program on amblyopia and other childhood-related eye ailments.

Private schools shall shoulder the funding for the implementation of their respective school's vision screening program for their kindergarten pupils.


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Title Annotation:Metro
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Nov 29, 2014
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