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Children’s eye care is an essential health benefit

Dr. Larry Morrison

The Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) wants Minnesota families to know that children now have access to better eye care and are eligible for annual comprehensive eye exams.

Children’s eye and vision care is one of the ten essential health benefits covered in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which became effective in January 2014.

Starting in 2014, all new and state exchange-based health plans must cover an annual comprehensive eye exam and treatment, including eyeglasses, from birth to at least age 18. Parents should check with their health plan for details.

For the first time, the federal government is recognizing eye health care for children as essential and is linking both medical eye care and vision care together under the same plan.

Studies over two decades show that there is a public health emergency with respect to children’s health in the U.S, because millions of children are not receiving comprehensive eye examinations necessary for detection of eye disorders.

Eye health is essential for school readiness, since 80 percent of all learning is through vision.

“Parents should not delay scheduling school-age children’s eye exams,” said Dr. Larry Morrison, Morrison Eye Care, Detroit Lakes and Mahnomen, who is the current president of the Minnesota Optometric Association.

“Early detection and treatment is vital for prevention of vision loss and leaning related problems, and vision screenings are not a substitute for comprehensive eye exams. Also, a vision problem may be misdiagnosed as a learning disability.”

Healthy eyes and vision are key to a child’s ability to learn, play sports and interact successfully now and throughout all phases of life.

Such refractive conditions as hyperopia, and eye disorders such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus, can be detected in a comprehensive eye exam.

An eye exam is not a screening, which only checks for far vision.

The Minnesota Optometric Association has almost 400 member doctors of optometry around the state.

The MOA is committed to furthering awareness of optometrists as primary eye care or family eye doctors and to bringing about change that positively impacts the MOA member doctors and their patients. For more information on the MOA visit