May 30, 2016
Senate approves Nat’l Vision Screening Act
Senators have passed on third and final reading on Monday Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2948 establishing a National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) for public school children.
Authored and sponsored by Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, SBN 2948 seeks early detection of visual problems among kindergarten pupils which the senator said often go undetected and untreated.
She said the measure aims to promote the full potential of every Filipino through good vision by creating ways and means to address vision problems, including blindness, among school children.
The bill tasks the Department of Education (DepED) to lead the implementation of NVSP, in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI), an office under the National Institutes of Health of the University of the Philippines (UP).
Under Section 4, the objectives of the NVSP are enumerated as follows:
- To conduct a simple vision screening test on kindergarten pupils through trained teachers and identify pupils with possible visual problems;
- To identify early childhood visual problems;
- To provide immediate attention to visually impaired kindergarten pupils and create a referral system so that they may be checked and treated by eye care practitioners; and
- To develop a vision screening results database for all kindergarten pupils.
According to PERI, one in twenty (5%) pre-schoolers and one in four (25%) school-aged children have eye problem.
But Senator Cayetano said eye disorders or ailments are usually addressed or corrected only in the adolescent or adult stage: “Because children cannot, by themselves, identify that they have eye problems, studies recommend that vision screening should ideally be recommended for children starting at age three.”
“These problems can be detected and resolved at an early stage with the help of simple tests and non-surgical procedures,” she explained, to emphasize the importance of establishing a nationwide visual screening program. #