WASHINGTONCongresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-30) reintroduced the See the Board Act, legislation directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make grants available for nonprofit organizations that provide free, mobile vision services for students in public elementary and secondary schools. Approximately, twelve percent of children in the Fifth District live below the poverty line and may struggle to access affordable eye care services.

“Visually impaired students who lack access to optometry services are at risk of struggling to learn and falling behind in school. According to the American Optometric Association, school-aged children should receive their first eye exam before first grade and annually thereafter. Many families are in serious need of affordable vision and eye care.” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05). “This legislation aims to eliminate barriers and allow children to concentrate and stay engaged. The See the Board Act will bring mobile vision services directly to schools in underserved communities and ensure children receive critical vision care.”              

“No child should be prevented from experiencing the full benefits of an education because they cannot see the board at the front of their classroom. We know that too many working families can’t afford to miss work to travel for an eye doctor’s appointment or simply can’t afford to seek this care for their kids. My See the Board Act will ensure that cost is not a barrier for K-12 students by bringing no-cost vision care directly to them,” said Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-30).

Due to a lack of access to critical vision care, it is estimated that over 2 million students nationwide go to school each day without the glasses they need to fully participate in class, negatively impacting their learning experience. Children with uncorrected vision are more likely to perform poorly in school and face lower self-confidence.

Additionally, eye doctors are seeing more kids needing glasses earlier in their lives. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, since 1971, cases of nearsightedness in the U.S. nearly doubled to 42 percent.

The See the Board Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Penn.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), David Trone (D-Md.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.).

Read the full text of the bill here.