Tuesday, April 27, 2021

How quickly things can change...

Do you ever notice how things evolve? Take COVID-19, for example. In January, it was all about the vaccine and then March brought us: “Which vaccine did you get? Did you have any side effects?” Now in May, it’s: “I got my vaccination, but I still don’t go anywhere and why do I have to wear this mask?”

The level of sophistication concerning COVID-19 has tripled over the last few months, but Pennsylvania is behind in vaccinating according to the goal set by President Biden. It is now an “all hands on deck” situation to catch up. As I write this message, legislation that would allow optometrists to administer the vaccine has passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and we are waiting for the Senate to return so that they may take up this issue. The Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University stands ready to deliver any education necessary should the bill, HB 63, become law. This is an opportunity for optometry to, once again, be on the front lines and make a difference during this public health emergency. Your participation is vital in moving toward the resolution of this pandemic.

On another front, Representative Zimmerman’s Children’s Vision Bill continues to move forward thanks to the quick action of the Legislative Affairs Committee, Children’s Vision Care Alliance, Clinical Practice Committee, and POA Executive Director Joe Ricci. The language was modified, reviewed, vetted, and resubmitted within hours of the original language coming into question. The teamwork on this bill has been exemplary and is telling of the commitment we have to the children of Pennsylvania. There are an estimated 28,000 children, kindergarten through sixth grade, with an undiagnosed visual disability that are marginalized annually. Their disability will likely be missed in vision screening as the data, in some studies, purports that they miss at least 50% of the maladies. Next, they are labeled for life as learning disabled and provided special education, IEP’s, and reading intervention without ever evaluating for a potential root cause. Optometry is the tip of the spear in attacking this issue. There is no other profession that has the education and training to define and potentially remediate a visual disability in the way that Optometry can. The opportunity to be successful in academics is life-changing for these children. As a doctor and a parent, I bear personal witness to the success of optometric intervention. I am pleased to report that my daughter, who experienced and remediated a vision disability will be graduating with a degree in biochemistry. She will be going for a Master’s in biochemistry/molecular biology this fall. This legislation is all about the children, their academic success, and, ultimately, their future. I am asking for your support by letting your legislator know that you support children’s vision by clicking on this link to send the message: https://pennsylvania.aoa.org/advocacy/poas-legislative-priorities (you will be asked to log in). 

Currently, there are 31 co-sponsors for the Children’s Vision Bill, a remarkably high number. If you have already sent a message and your legislator is still not on the co-sponsor list, please do it again. They need to hear from you.

Co-sponsor list as of April 20, 2021

Zimmerman (Prime Sponsor); Diamond; Mackenzie; Miller, D; Kulik; Kauffman; Gillen; Irvin; Toohill; Guenst; Rozzi; Sturla; Brooks; Hershey; Freeman; Millard; Smith, B; Pickett; Ciresi; Ryan; Howard; Saylor; Webster; James; Pashinski; Stephens; Pennycuick; Boback; McNeill; Hamm; Cook

The 28,000 children, as well as many others, will benefit from a vision evaluation by the best, most qualified professionals in vision, optometrists. 

Until soon,

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