Bilirakis Bill Looks to Establish First Federal Program To Tackle Children Eyesight Health

Bilirakis Bill Looks to Establish First Federal Program To Tackle Children Eyesight Health

Jackson Bakich
Jackson Bakich
May 15, 2024

Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Marc Veasey (D-TX) have introduced the Early Detection of Vision Impairments in Children (EDVI) Act, a bill designed to provide vision and eye health care to young people through early intervention, screenings, and “coordinated systems of care.” The legislation would establish grants for states and communities to achieve results.

According to Rep. Bilirakis, there is not a federally funded program that tackles the issue of children’s vision despite numerous programs being directed toward the support of hearing and oral health in young people.

This bill would look to change that.

Rep. Bilirakis stated that as a kid he struggled with his eyesight. However, the EDVI Act would attempt to ensure the “best possible start in life” for children.

“As an American who has suffered from poor vision since childhood, I have a first-hand understanding of how critical early detection and treatment is when it comes to ensuring that all children have the best possible start in life,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “Our landmark bill will ensure all children get the screening and care they need at the right age by creating the first-ever federally funded program to address children’s vision and eye health. This legislation will empower states and communities, like mine, to improve systems of care for our youngest citizens and their families.”

Furthermore, Rep. Veasey added that vision and eye health are “critical” to a child’s development.

“Children’s vision and eye health is a critical aspect of a child’s healthy development that has been overlooked for far too long,” said Rep. Veasey, the newly appointed Democratic co-chair of the Vision Caucus. “Healthy vision plays a key role in each child’s performance in school - when a child cannot see, their education suffers. Texas families and children across the country deserve equitable access to early detection and care for vision issues, whether at school, in the community, or across the healthcare spectrum. The Early Detection of Vision Impairments for Children Act will ensure children, their parents, and their caregivers can access the eye care they need to thrive and succeed.”

The legislation would call on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award grants and cooperative agreements for states and local communities. With these resources, HRSA would attempt to accomplish the following:

  1. Implement approaches (such as vision screenings) for the early detection of vision concerns in children, referrals for eye exams, and follow-up mechanisms;
  2. Identify barriers in access to eye care and strategies to improve eye health outcomes;
  3. Raise awareness about the importance of early interventions and screenings;
  4. Establish a coordinated public health system for vision health and eye care diagnosis and treatment; and
  5. Develop state-based data collection, quality monitoring, and performance improvement systems.
  6. Resources will also be made available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide technical assistance and guidance to states and communities to implement children’s vision screening and early intervention programs.

Congressman Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th District.

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Jackson Bakich

Jackson Bakich

Born in Orlando but raised in Lake County, Florida, Jackson Bakich is currently a senior at Florida State University. Growing up in the sunshine state, Bakich co-hosted the political talk radio show "Lake County Roundtable" (WLBE) and was a frequent guest for "Lake County Sports Show" (WQBQ). Currently, he is the Sports Editor of the FSView and the co-host of "Tomahawk Talk" (WVFS), a sports talk radio program covering Florida State athletics in Tallahassee.

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