Children's Vision and Eye Health

Early Detection of Vision Impairments in Children (EDVI) Act of 2024

The EDVI Act would establish the first federal program to address children’s vision and eye health.

Passing this important legislation would indicate Congress’s commitment to protecting the eyesight of our nation’s children and preventing avoidable vision loss and blindness in children.

EDVI - Early Detection of Vision Impairments in Children Act

You Can Help!

Prevent Blindness, a leader in children’s vision and eye health through our National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, envisions a future where children can grow with healthy eyesight and enjoy a lifetime of good vision. The EDVI Act is a children’s health imperative and must be enacted by Congress. Get involved now, and help make the EDVI Act a reality for children and families.

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Background

A child’s vision develops and changes from birth through childhood. Because of these changes, a child should be screened regularly, referred to eye care, and receive any needed treatment and follow-up to care to ensure vision problems are caught early and permanent vision loss is avoided.

While early detection and intervention for vision disorders in children are part of national goals and health care standards, there is currently no federally funded program in the United States that specifically addresses children’s vision and eye health. Other public health programs are in place to support many other important aspects of child health and development— including children’s hearing and oral health. Children’s vision health deserves the same level of action.

States and communities are best positioned to implement a public health system of care for children’s vision and eye health through community, early learning, and school-based health approaches. However, state laws to address children’s vision vary widely in approaches and often lack protocols for referrals to eye care providers and follow-up to ensure eye care was received. States may also lack the necessary resources to modernize, improve, or implement equitable systems of care that match the needs of their youngest citizens.

a girl wearing glasses

a child getting new glasses

Key Provisions of the EDVI Act

The goal of the EDVI Act is to ensure that every child with a possible vision problem is identified and connected to appropriate eye care.  The EDVI Act would support schools, early childhood professionals, health care providers, public health professionals, and families with updated and evidence-based vision screening methods, improve referrals to eye care, and advance follow-up protocols to ensure that children who need eye care treatment receive it before a vision problem leads to potential vision loss.

Under the EDVI Act, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will award grants and cooperative agreements for states and local communities to:

  • Implement approaches (such as vision screenings) for the early detection of vision concerns in children, referrals for eye exams, and follow-up mechanisms;
  • Identify barriers in access to eye care and strategies to improve eye health outcomes;
  • Raise awareness about the importance of early interventions and screenings;
  • Establish a coordinated public health system for vision health and eye care diagnosis and treatment; and
  • Develop state-based data collection, quality monitoring, and performance improvement systems.

The EDVI Act also makes resources available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish a national level technical assistance center to provide guidance to any state or community implementing, updating, or improving children’s vision programs, to promote surveillance, and to advance population health research priorities in children’s vision. The EDVI Act also encourages collaboration across various agencies under HHS and with the U.S. Department of Education—a key step to ensure that children’s vision and eye health resources are broadly addressed to improve academic outcomes.

A broad spectrum of public health organizations support the EDVI Act, including:

American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Optometry
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
American Optometric Association
American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses
Association of Clinicians for the Underserved
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
Children’s Vision Equity Alliance
Family Voices
First Focus Campaign for Children
Healthy Schools Campaign
National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research
National Association of School Nurses
School-Based Health Alliance