- Kids have been getting vision checks years ahead of a new state law
MUSCATINE, Iowa — Parents whose children attend kindergarten and third-grade in the Muscatine Community School District can rest assured those students are in compliance with a new Iowa law.
On July 1, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a law requiring vision checks for Iowa children entering kindergarten and third-grade.
The law goes into effect next year, said Wendy Shoppa-Sargent, a school nurse and public health coordinator for the district, but the vision checks have been performed in the district for many years.
Shoppa-Sargent said the free screenings at school fulfill the requirements of the new law, even for families who opt to have additional vision checks done by private providers or the Muscatine Lions Club.
Early vision testing is important, said Julie Herold of the Muscatine Lions Club, and her organization provides on vision checks for children ages 6 months to 4 years old. Those checks meet the requirements of the new Iowa law. The club does not provide screenings for children older than age 4.
Last year, the Lions began using a state-of-the-art iScreen3000 digital camera funded with a $10,000 grant from the Muscatine Health Support Foundation. The camera takes precise photos of children’s eyes, which are evaluated at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics Department of Ophthalmology. Any irregularities are reported to the parents, who are then advised to take their child to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for further tests.
The local Lions began vision screenings in 2004 and since then, 3,474 children have been checked. Regular, free screenings are conducted monthly at the Muscatine Community Y and Musser Public Library. Parents or guardians must fill out a consent form.
The Lions also go to area preschools to conduct the screenings, said Herold, and work with programs for children ages 3 and under conducted by the Muscatine Community School District and Lutheran Services in Iowa.
The Lions work with the statewide University of Iowa KidSight program, which began photo screenings in 2000 and serves about 40,000 children annually through Iowa's 370 Lions Clubs.
Shoppa-Sargent said children's eyes should be screened often, because their vision can change, and that is why the school district follows up with each child.