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Pennsylvania kids might see more in-depth eye exams due to a proposed bill

 A child tries on new glasses in front of a mirror
Isaac Brekken
The Increasing the Effectiveness of Eye Health Examinations bill is being put forward by Republican state Senator Chris Gebhard.

The Pennsylvania legislature might soon see a bill that would require in-depth eye health examinations for children. Supporters say insufficient eye exams can leave kids behind in school.

The bill, which is called Increasing the Effectiveness of Eye Health Examinations, is being put forward by Republican state Senator Chris Gebhard. It has bipartisan support and is also being backed by the Pennsylvania Optometric Association.

Tracy Sepich, a past president of the POA and an optometrist in the State College Area, said current in-school screenings are not good enough.

"All they're looking for typically is distance vision," Sepich said. "Forty percent of students that are identified with learning disabilities have some kind of vision problem, but they aren't all checked."

The bill would require children to get exams in kindergarten, fourth and eighth grades. Also, if a student moves to Pennsylvania from another state, they'd be required to have an eye exam before entering school.

Sepich said she's seeing eye issues in students as young as kindergarten.

"Even if they have a high intelligence level, they're not getting the information they need," Sepich said.

Sepich said she expects the bill will be considered this session, and she's optimistic due to widespread support.

Katie Knol is a WPSU radio news intern for fall 2022.