Students advocate for comprehensive vision testing bill

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LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos and Senate Health Policy Committee Chairman Mike Shirkey (right) on Tuesday welcomed members of the CW Tech Robotarians and coach Dale Quattrin to the Michigan capital after the group testified in support of legislation to ensure students who fail a vision screening get a comprehensive eye exam.

“Catching and treating vision problems in children early can help improve their academic performance and enhance their quality of life,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “After being contacted by these students about a team member who suffered from undiagnosed vision problems for years, I co-sponsored this measure to put in place a process for those with vision problems to get the correct diagnosis and the help they need to read, learn and succeed.”

The CW Tech robotics teammate was eventually diagnosed with convergence insufficiency (CI), finished treatment and is doing fine. CI is a vision disorder in which the eyes do not work together while focusing on a nearby object. Students with CI can struggle to concentrate and have difficulty with reading. Unfortunately, standard eye tests do not always uncover disorders like CI. As a result, parents or teachers then suspect that a child has a learning disability instead of a vision problem.

The entire 26-member robotics team made the trip to Lansing as part of the CI Awareness Campaign they launched last year to inform elected officials and school leaders about the condition and encourage them to implement CI screening in elementary schools.

“I thank the CW Tech Robotarians for contacting me about this important issue and for all their efforts in support of their former teammate and all Michigan students,” Proos said.

Senate Bill 411 would require a comprehensive eye and vision exam for a child who fails their already required grade school vision screening or is identified as a struggling reader.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Photowire.