Jessica Oberoi, 13, can’t exactly remember when her eyesight started getting blurry. All she knows is that she had to squint to see the whiteboard at school.
It wasn’t until last fall when her eighth grade class in Bloomington, Indiana, got vision screenings that Jessica’s extreme nearsightedness and amblyopia, or lazy eye, were discovered.
She’s been going through intense treatment since then, and her optometrist, Dr. Katie Connolly, said Jessica has made great improvements — but her lazy eye, which causes depth perception problems, may never go away. The chances of it being completely corrected would have been much higher if her condition had been caught earlier, said Connolly, chief of pediatric and binocular vision services at Indiana University’s School of Optometry.
Jessica is one of the countless students falling through the cracks of the nation’s fractured efforts to catch and treat vision problems among children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 600,000 children and teens are blind or have a vision disorder. A recent opinion article published on JAMA Network notes that a large number of these children could be helped simply with glasses, but because of high costs and lack of insurance coverage, many are not getting that help.
Yet the National Survey of Children’s Health, funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, found that in 2016-17 a quarter of children were not regularly screened for vision problems.
And a large majority of those vision impairments could b …