MANILA - A lawmaker is proposing the mandatory vision screening for children for early treatment of eye problems and blindness.
House Bill 5190, filed by Pangasinan 5th District Rep. Kimi S. Cojuangco, seeks to create the National Vision Screening Program (NVSP), which will check kindergarten pupils for eye problems.
Cojuangco explained that lazy eye, or amblyopia, is often caused by a high degree of disparity in refractive power between the eyes. Two to five percent of all children suffer from lazy eye.
"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.
Cojuangco said because it is impossible for eye doctors to check every child in the country, the national vision screening program is a fast and cost-effective way to check children's vision.
The NVSP also aims to develop a vision screening results database for all kindergarten pupils, as well as to conduct continuing research on the state of visual impairment among preschoolers.
Under the bill, the Department of Education (DepEd) is the lead implementing agency of the NVSP. In coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI), the NVSP shall administer the vision-screening program to all public kindergarten pupils. A written consent from the kindergarten pupil's parents or legal guardian is required.
The DepEd is likewise 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 where results of vision screening per child can be found.
The bill will also create a Vision Screening Continuing Research (VSCR) Fund to be sourced from any donation or bequest made to the DepEd in favor of the NVSP. The VSCR Fund shall be used to fund the PERI and for its continuing research program in connection with childhood-related eye vision ailments.