I am particularly pleased with the wisdom shown by the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago to approve a system of financial assistance for thousands of primary-school children with eye problems. This will see families afforded access to $1,500 in funding every two years for pairs of spectacles.
This is a great example of data driven decision making. Between 2011 and 2012, an analysis of screening data indicated that about 2.5 percent of first-year children and 10 percent of fourth-standard students have refracted errors needing correction by way of eyeglasses. A national eye survey has also found there is a “significant number of children with refractive errors” in schools. However, a number of children are without eyeglasses due to lack of funds. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), good vision is critical for many classroom tasks – from reading books or seeing a blackboard to viewing a computer screen. Without healthy vision, students can face unnecessary challenges not only in the classroom, but also to their mental, physical, social and emotional well being. Studies conducted by the AOA indicate that 60 percent of children identified as “problem learners” actually suffer from undetected vision problems. According to the AOA’s American Eye-Q survey, only 39 percent of adults understand that behavioral problems can be an indication of vision problems.
This approach speaks to attacking a problem at its root cause. It is very refreshing to see we are looking to eliminate the problem at its source rather than offering bandages way down the road. This is revolutionary.