Press Release
October 8, 2018

Senate gives nod to early detection of eye disorders program for kids

The Senate approved on third and final reading a bill establishing a program for early detection of visual problems among kindergarten pupils and a funding facility for a continuing research for eye diseases and treatments.

Senate Bill No. 1706, to be known as the "National Vision Screening Act", primarily institutionalizes a nationwide eye screening program for kindergarten pupils under the Department of Education (DepEd).

"The vision of young children, particularly those at a preschool age, plays a crucial role in their development as their sight is the primary guide to most of their learning experiences. It is clear that good and healthy visual skills are fundamental to bolster a child's literacy," Sen. Sonny Angara, the bill's principal author, said.

Vision screening of preschool-aged children would allow early detection of blindness and other visual disorders, which, if not treated, could lead to education, occupational and safety restrictions later in life, the senator said.

"It is only proper to establish an early diagnostic initiative for young children. This Act advances a health policy grounded on early preventive intervention that is more efficient than remediation at a later age," Angara said.

Under the measure, the DepEd, in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI), will administer the vision screening program, create a database on the results of the tests and develop a system of referral and corrective measures.

The conduct of a continuing research by PERI on childhood eye ailments is mandated with the creation of the Vision Screening Continuing Research Fund (VSCR), funding of which will be sourced from donations.

All donations and contributions to VSCR shall be exempt from donor's tax and shall be allowed as allowable deduction from the gross income of the donor.

An appropriation will be included in the annual national budgets of DepEd and DOH to cover for the expenses of the vision screening tests of public kindergarten pupils while those enrolled in private schools will be assumed by the private schools concerned.

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