ODs Provide Eye Examines For New IEP Students

By: Ohio Optometric Association

IEP Brochure Cover 1Ohio law requires that students newly referred to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) must receive an eye exam from an eye doctor.

A list by county of doctors who see students is at www.ooa.org. (If your practice should be listed, send an email with practice name and county to info@ooa.org). Also, a sample eye exam form is included which you can fax to the student’s school. Parents should schedule the appointment with the eye doctor within 90 days after the student is initially identified with learning disabilities. If the student had an eye exam during the previous nine months, the requirement is already met.

Why is an eye exam required for students referred to special education programs?

Since 80 percent of learning is through vision, a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor can detect and correct vision problems, which could improve the child’s performance in school. One in four school-aged children has a vision disorder, and about 70 percent of students on an IEP have an undiagnosed vision disorder. Eliminating or correcting vision problems is the first step to helping these students.

If the eye exam is not done within 90 days of identification for IEP, can the student attend school?

The goal is to help students. Students will not be kept out of school if the eye exam requirement is not met.

Why is an eye exam needed?

While school nurses may detect a vision problem through a vision screening, vision screenings never diagnose or treat a vision disorder. A comprehensive eye exam is a detailed assessment of the overall eye and vision health including measuring for distance vision, eye alignment, focusing, eye shape, depth perception, and more. Eye doctors are trained to make a definitive diagnosis and prescribe treatment such as glasses, contact lenses and medication.

An aspect of learning preparation that is often overlooked is good vision which is essential for a child to learn. A trip to an eye doctor can make sure the student’s vision is as good as it can be.

2015 Ohio Optometric Foundation giving message

As we near the end of 2015, the Ohio Optometric Foundation is proud to share with you the successes and services provided to Ohioans in need during the past year.

Because of your generosity, the Ohio Optometric Foundation has:

* Provided opportunities and resources for children and underprivileged individuals to receive eye care. Since the launch of iSee, the Foundation’s in-school eye exam program, more than 1,000 Ohio school children received eye care and eyeglasses-giving these students a better chance to succeed in school.

* Educated the citizens of Ohio to make informed decisions regarding eye health and the importance of a lifetime of comprehensive vision care.

* Provided scholarships for Ohio students committed to service in the optometric profession. This year, five exceptional optometry students each received scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 to use toward their education. Since its establishment, the Ohio Optometric Foundation is proud to have awarded over $200,000 in student scholarships.
The Ohio Optometric Foundation is the nonprofit charity of your profession, so it makes sense to keep your charitable donations close to home. Please consider making a generous donation today. Your contribution really does make a difference. Donations to the Ohio Optometric Foundation are tax deductible and provide a way to ensure a lasting legacy that emphasizes the importance of vision and eye care.

Send your contribution to:

Ohio Optometric Foundation
PO Box 6036
Worthington, OH 43085
Or make a donation through the OOA website

You can also give to the OOF by simply linking your amazon.com and kroger card to the foundation at no cost. Download this Amazon and Kroger ways to donate PDF for instructions!

With warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year!

Tracey G. Needham, O.D.
Ohio Optometric Foundation

The Rudiments of Leadership

By Dr. Gregory Hopkins

Hopkins Blog PictureWe have, as optometrists, so many opportunities to display leadership! Take a look at the “word cloud” pictured above. Perhaps you would like for those characteristics to describe your habitual demeanor in the exam room with patients, during staff meetings, teaching students/residents, managing your household, raising your children (if applicable), etc.? Leadership is certainly an important topic—a google search will net >151,000,000 books on the subject (and counting). Leadership is the process of dealing with change, and our world is changing at an ever-accelerating pace. Certainly, we all do our best to manage this change, but there is a difference between leadership and management. We need both processes to succeed, and all of us have a distinct set of strengths and values to bring to the table. Let the unique reasons “WHY” you practice optometry drive “HOW” you set the culture of your practice. In the end, “WHAT” you do in your office reflects on your beliefs regarding the style of eye care you provide. Work outwards from the vision you have for your practice and you’ll be sure to attract loyal patients and staff—best of luck!

Opportunities abound to develop our leadership skills! Find mentors in your community, attend local zone meetings, volunteer to give RealEyes Presentations, serve your zone or seek positions on OOA committees or the board. There’s always great CE to be found on the topic of leadership at EastWest Eye Conference. The OOA Board runs a Leadership Academy for New Optometrists, with 40 new member-doctors poised to spend the coming year performing committee work and attending OOA events. If you graduated in optometry 2008 or later and would like to be part of the Leadership Academy, contact the OOA.

Back to School Eye Exams are a Must

By Dr. Ann Morrison,  Binocular Vision and Pediatrics Advanced Practice Fellow at Ohio State College of Optometry.

As school starts back up in the next couple of weeks, you should be advocating the importance of regular back to school eye examinations to your patients. It has been estimated that up to 80% of learning is visual. This should be a statistic that you promote to your patients, as it is a true testament to the importance of having good vision in the classroom.

As we all know, having good vision is more than reading 20/20 on an acuity chart. According to the Center for Disease Control, vision disabilities are one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children. Many studies have linked poor academic performance with ocular problems [1-3].

Parents are always amazed at the responses their children will give me when I ask them questions about their eyes during an examination. Some of the questions I might ask a child are: “Do you ever see the words on the page split in to two? Do they get fuzzy sometimes? Do they ever look like they are swimming?”. When a child responds “yes” to any of these types of questions, the parents quickly justify that their child never complained of those things to them. I reassure them that they are not bad parents and that children often assume that everyone else sees the way they do. I explain that unless someone explicitly tells them that these types of symptoms are not normal, a child typically will not complain.

When I have a discussion with my patients about the importance of comprehensive eye exams, I cannot begin to count how many of them think that the vision screening administered at their child’s school or at their pediatrician well-visit is counted as a comprehensive eye examination. While screenings are a great public health implementation, it is important to spend the time educating your patients on the value of a comprehensive dilated eye examination and explain that many disorders including far-sightedness, eye teaming and focusing problems are often missed in screenings that take place in the school or at their pediatrician’s office. These types of disorders can impede a child’s ability to focus and keep up with the rest of their peers.

These conversations are a great segue into discussing the Infant-See program, explaining that comprehensive eye care should start by the time a baby is one year old. This topic also sheds light on the importance of the Realeyes program, as it educates children about their eyes and the importance of visiting an eye doctor. Make sure you are making your patients aware of these programs!

I’ll leave you with a link to fantastic video put together by the One Sight program who has set up a full service optical center and exam lane inside the Oyler School in Cincinnati. What they are doing in this school is a testament to how powerful a single pair of glasses can be for a child in need.



  1. Narayanasamy, S., et al., Impact of Simulated Hyperopia on Academic-Related Performance in Children. Optom Vis Sci, 2014.
  2. Quaid, P. and T. Simpson, Association between reading speed, cycloplegic refractive error, and oculomotor function in reading disabled children versus controls. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol, 2013. 251(1): p. 169-87.
  3. Rosner, J. and J. Rosner, The relationship between moderate hyperopia and academic achievement: how much plus is enough? J Am Optom Assoc, 1997. 68(10): p. 648-50.

Make a Difference in Children’s Lives

By Dr. Ann Rea Miller

Children’s vision has always been something I’ve actively participated in since graduating optometry school. Presenting RealEyes to children in schools and seeing babies 6-12 months through the InfantSEE program just seemed like something I needed to be involved in. It seemed natural to me that optometrists should focus on kids vision with our knowledge that 80% of what we learn is through our eyes. Having poor vision while children are in school can lead to poor grades, children who become disruptive because they can’t see what is being taught, get bored and may be unable to verbalize their problems. Kids may even be misdiagnosed with ADHD or unnecessary IEPs may be issued which could potentially cause unnecessary emotional turmoil for children and/or their families.

So many times after I examine a child and tell their parent(s) about the problem I’m finding with the child’s eyes, the parent(s) are shocked because their child did not tell them they were having problems. Parents feel guilty and beat themselves up about why they didn’t take their child to see me sooner. We all know that some people tolerate all kinds of blur without complaining, especially children who do not have expectations of what their vision should be. I love that we, as optometrists, are able to have a positive impact on these children’s lives and allow them clarity through contact lenses or glasses to function at a higher level.

I have done many RealEyes presentations since graduating. Some go better than others and just when you feel like the students may not have gotten the message as well as I was intending, I get clarity to my own perceptions of what the children really got out of my presentations.

Recently I presented to a school and really was concerned that the children may not have gotten the messages I was trying to teach them about their eyes, vision, and getting their eyes checked yearly to keep their eyes healthy. After my presentations that day, I really started to question whether I should have spent my time that day versus seeing patients and making money, or spending time with my son. My questioning was put to a halt when I received over 20 thank you letters from kids who wrote to me about what they enjoyed when I was in their classroom and the favorite thing they learned about their eyes…they really had paid attention! We need to remember that kids’ brains are like sponges and they soak in so much knowledge. We need to remember that kids are our future.

We need to take the time to educate them on the importance of their vision and eye health. It amazes me how often I have a child who comes into the office because they have told their parent(s) about what they learned through my presentation and the child was made aware of what blurry vision was and they realized they were experiencing it. Our goal should be to examine all young children and treat vision problems when needed, therefore allowing children the ability to learn more easily by having clear vision. I urge everyone to take the time to impact young kids’ lives through RealEyes and InfantSEE to provide the knowledge and expertise we are able to provide. As a bonus, remember that one day the children you impact (and the rest of their family) may become your patients in the process.

Optometrists should be aware of legal and ethical reporting requirements

Keith R. Kerns, Esq.–OOA Executive Director

Optometrists are well respected professionals and are trusted members of any community.  As such, state law and the AOA’s Standards of Professional Conduct (Standards) place obligations upon optometrists to report abuse and neglect at certain times.  It is important for optometrists to be familiar with the legal and ethical requirements surrounding this important subject.

Section C of the Standards, entitled “beneficence” or “do good,” calls on optometrists to “have the responsibility to identify signs of abuse and neglect in children…and to report suspected cases to the appropriate agencies, consistent with state law.”

Ohio law confers a special obligation upon certain trusted members of society to take action in suspected cases of child abuse.  Ohio Revised Code section 2151.421 requires health care professionals acting in their professional capacity to immediately report that a child has suffered or faces a threat of suffering abuse or neglect.  For purposes of the requirement, a child is defined as any minor under the age of 18 and a developmentally disabled, mentally retarded or physically impaired child under the age of 21.

The directive in Ohio law is clear, but what constitutes “abuse” and “neglect” may not always be as clear.  Again, state law tries to provide some guidance on this issue.  The law defines an abused child as one who has been the victim of sexual activity or exhibits evidence of any physical or mental injury inflicted not by accident.

A neglected child is defined as a child who is abandoned, lacks adequate parental care or suffers physical or mental injury due to a parent or guardian’s omission.  Additionally, a child whose parent(s) or guardian(s) refuse “to provide proper or necessary subsistence, education, medical or surgical care or treatment, or other care necessary for the child’s health, morals, or well-being,” also meets the definition of a neglected child.

This guidance is helpful but even within these definitions, there is quite a bit of discretion placed upon the practitioner to determine whether a child is suffering from abuse or neglect.  An optometrist must evaluate the situation thoroughly and make a determination as to whether a reasonable person in his or her position believes that the situation constitutes abuse or neglect.  If it does, then the decision is clear.  An optometrist must report the issue to the proper authorities, in this case a local child services agency or law enforcement officer in the county in which the child resides.

An agency that receives the report may ask the optometrist to follow up with additional information in writing.  This written report should include the name and address of the child and parent(s)/guardian(s), the child’s age and nature of the injuries, abuse or neglect that was suffered, and any other information that may be helpful in establishing the cause of the injury, abuse or neglect.

In almost every instance, a report is considered confidential and the information contained within it and the name of the person who reported it is not to be released.  Additionally, the information in the report and name of the person filing the report cannot be used as evidence in any civil action brought against the person making the report.  Ohio law recognizes that these good faith reports are essential in order to protect the well-being of at-risk children and confers these necessary protections on those who report suspected abuse.

For more information on this important issue, please contact the OOA at (800) 874-9111.

*This information is intended to provide general guidance and should not be considered legal advice.  Optometrists and staff should rely on the advice of their own legal counsel on specific issues.

Pediatric Eye Care: Our Duty to Educate and Promote Available Programs

By: Kari R. Cardiff, O.D.

We all can agree that proper eye care is essential for infants and children. Why then are we still encountering a twelve-year-old child with refractive amblyopia who has never been examined and has never worn glasses or patched? I believe it is partly because the child’s family was never told to get their child’s eyes examined. Since the child has clear vision in one eye, the child never complained. Perhaps the child had a school screening but the good eye was tested first and the child memorized the letters? I feel that conversations about InfantSEE, RealEyes, and pediatric eye care in general should be a standard in our everyday lives as eye doctors. Whether the child is seven months old or twelve years old, normal visual development and clarity is essential for taking in all the world has to offer.

During the first several months of a typical child’s life, the brain is intensely attending to all new sights, sounds, tastes, and touches. When the brain is so accepting of new information and change, it can be easily transformed for the better or for the worse. For instance, any disruption in binocular vision in a young child can result in amblyopia. We are aware of the fact that a non-premature, developmentally classic baby should have their first eye exam between six months and twelve months old. When is the last time you told someone this or about the InfantSEE program and the importance of an eye exam before age 1? I take advantage of every opportunity to inform people about these things. Here are some examples of situations where I have had the opportunity to educate on InfantSEE: when examining an expecting parent (female or male); when examining older siblings of infants; and in conversations with friends and family. This is my usual statement: “Did you know I offer free eye examinations to babies 6-12 months old here? It is through a program called InfantSEE. We will assess the baby’s visual behavior, ocular health, glasses prescription, and eye alignment. This exam can be imperative for the baby’s vision development. A baby’s eye examination is quite different than an adult’s. Don’t worry, I won’t be asking them what is better, 1 or 2?” After the exam, I send a report to the patient’s family and pediatrician to keep everyone informed. Even if you do not participate in the InfantSEE program, I am sure the Ohio Optometric Association would be happy to connect you with someone who does.

As all of us were taught, 80% of learning occurs through vision. Typical school-aged children require clear and comfortable vision for effective learning. Most school nurse and pediatrician office screenings do a wonderful job of prioritizing patients and separating out the normal from abnormal; however, I feel that it is still important to remind parents, teachers, pediatricians, and school nurses that nothing replaces a complete and dilated eye examination with an eye doctor who is comfortable seeing children.

I am a RealEyes presenter and the programs and curriculum are always fantastic and age-appropriate. But I strongly believe the most important part comes at the end of presentation when I hand out the worksheets and state, “Please go home and show this to your family. Tell them that you want to go to the eye doctor for an examination. Tell them about what you learned today. Even though you may think you see well, an eye doctor can make sure your eyes are healthy and are functioning at the best of their ability.”  Even if only 25% of the children go home and follow through, that is still 25% more children getting eye examinations. For ‘Sammy Safe-eyes,’ the pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum, I inform kids that when they sign their name at the bottom of the first page this acts as a promise that they will go home and share what they have learned with their family. Also, with each visit to the school, I am able to interact with school nurses and teachers. I always heighten their awareness regarding the importance of eye care. Some teachers do not know about VSP school vouchers for students with suspected poor vision and limited resources for eye care. I always give out my business cards to teachers and school nurses.  I make it a point of letting them know that they should not hesitate to call me with questions or concerns about their students. Additionally, I also often ask friends and family who are teachers in Ohio if RealEyes is presented at their school. If it is not, I take whatever steps I can to further the prospects of these schools having the program.

We should all strive to take every opportunity to educate parents, teachers, nurses, pediatricians, and friends about the importance and significance of appropriate vision care for all of the infants and children we encounter. A definite here is that we all love eye care.  Who doesn’t love kids? No eye doctor can deny their love of talking about eye balls! I believe that more consistent discussions and proactive education in regards to InfantSEE, RealEyes, and general pediatric eye care can make a priceless difference in countless numbers of children’s lives.  Please do your part.

The Rick Cornett Endowed Scholarship in Optometry

RC Newspaper

For seventeen years, the Ohio Optometric Association has flourished under the guidance of its Executive Director, Mr. Rick Cornett.  It is difficult to quantify the number of lives that he has influenced during his tenure, from the Presidents and Board Members that have served with him, to The Ohio State College of Optometry and its students and faculty, to the General Assembly at the Statehouse, and most importantly, the patients of Ohio for which we care.  We all have been well served.

In anticipation of his retirement later this spring, the OOA Board of Directors is establishing The Rick Cornett Endowed Scholarship in Optometry at the Ohio State University College of Optometry.  Third or fourth year students exhibiting strong leadership and legislative potential will be eligible to receive the scholarship.  The burdensome debt with which optometry students graduate was a constant concern of Rick’s; The OOA Board feels establishing a scholarship to defray this debt is a fitting tribute to our captain.

We are seeking the support of fellow “Friends of Rick”.  Tax-deductible donations and/or pledges can be made via the attached gift form or online at https://www.giveto.osu.edu/makeagift/OnlineGivingDonation.aspx (instructions below). Rachel Childress, the Director of Development at the College, is available if you have questions regarding your donation.  Her contact information is below. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this lasting tribute to Rick and his visionary stewardship of our Association.


Terri A. Gossard, O.D., M.S.

Ohio Optometric Association President

*On Sunday, March 29, 2015, the OOA will host an afternoon reception in honor of Rick’s retirement at JLiu’s Restaurant 6880 High St., Worthington OH, 43085 from 2:00-4:00 remarks will be starting at 3:00. Please contact Linda Fette at 614-781-0708, or via email at linda@ooa.org by March 15th, 2015.

Instructions to donate online:

1) Click link above

2) On the right side of the form is a blue “search” button click on it

3) Enter the following # 482751 (or search for Rick Cornett)

4) Click select, now the form will be populated for the Rick Cornett Scholarship Fund.

Printable Gift Form


Rachel Childress, Director of Development
 The Ohio State University 
College of Optometry, Development and Alumni Affairs 
A415 Starling Loving | 338 West 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210                                       614-292-2100 Office | 614-571-1696 Mobile | 614-247-8355 Fax  


The Affordable Care Act and Optometry

OSU student Erica KellerBy Erica Keller, Ohio State University, AOSA Trustee-elect – Recently, Rick Cornett, Executive Director of the Ohio Optometric Association, came to speak at The Ohio State University College of Optometry about the Affordable Care Act (ACA)/Obamacare and how it will affect optometrists, both positively and negatively. More than 150 students came to listen, making it apparent that we have an interest in the future of our profession under the ACA. We want to know: What does this legislation mean for optometry’s future?

1. How will the increase in consumers with insurance benefit optometrists?
The increase in insured patients will allow more people to come to optometry offices and have coverage for services provided. Due to the legislative work of Sen. Tom Harkin (author of the Harkin amendment, which became part of the law), optometrists have been included in many health care plans and have not been discriminated against by major insurance providers who are looking to cut costs.*

2. The Harkin Law and Optometry
The Harkin Law provides patients easier accessibility to an optometrist of their choosing and prevents insurance carriers from keeping optometry services out of health care plans.* Unfortunately, this may not be the case forever. The introduction of the H.R. 2817 bill would undo the progress the Harkin Law has made in the advancements of gaining coverage under a health care plan and eliminating the need to have a stand-alone vision care plan.* Fortunately, optometry is a strong profession and the American Optometric Association is working hard to fight this newly introduced bill.

3. What can we do as students to ensure H.R. 2817 does not pass?
Donate to AOA-PAC through your school representative and, if you have the opportunity, go to Washington D.C. and lobby for optometry’s future. If this bill passes, it would allow insurance companies to implement plans that limit patient access to vision care by optometrists.

4. What is the future of pediatric vision care?
The ACA has implemented an essential health benefit (EHB) requirement that will include pediatric vision care as one of 10 essential benefits required in health care plans. This vision care benefit will be integrated into the plan as a whole and will allow children under 18 to have one comprehensive eye exam per year and material benefits.* Children who may have never had vision care insurance in the past will now be covered.

5. Medicaid Coverage Enhancements
Starting this year, Medicaid will extend its coverage to anyone with income under 133 percent of the federal poverty line.* This will allow citizens who are childless and without insurance to be covered when they would not have been eligible for government assistance previously.* It is up to each individual state whether they will accept this Medicaid expansion. The states that choose to participate will receive more money to manage the increase in Medicaid participants, but this does not mean that payments will increase for providers.* Contact your state association to find out what is being done and what you can do to help ensure fair payment to providers.

While the ACA has been a politically divisive issue, we must take measures to educate ourselves on its impact.
Students have a responsibility to ensure they are informed and proactive. Changes to health care in this nation are inevitable. We can choose to watch from the sidelines or make our message clear: we are part of the solution.

Erica Keller is a student at The Ohio State University School of Optometry and a trustee-elect for the American Optometry Student Association (AOSA). Her column appears in the Spring 2014 edition of Foresight, the AOSA magazine, and was reprinted with permission.

* “Top 5 ACA Changes for 2014: Are You Ready?” American Optometric Association, 8 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2014.

Managing Mandatory Children’s Eye Exams

Dr Jeff MyersBy Jeffrey Myers, OD – I love kids. Spending time with my two grandchildren always brings joy and is a highlight of my day or week. At reunions of my wife’s family, I rarely am talking to the adults. More interesting to me is connecting with the folks under 18. Many of my volunteer activities over the years have been focused on young people. I find that connecting with the young folks at church when volunteering with the youth group is energizing. Generally, young folks enjoy the attention of an adult who is truly interested in talking to them, and who treats them as an equal.

In practice, you might share the experience with me that certain types of patients are energizing, interesting, and intellectually stimulating. For me, removing foreign bodies, relieving the pain of iritis, and protecting patients from the loss of vision associated with glaucoma all fall into this category. I confess that examining patients under age 10 does not fall into this category. While I love kids, my passion is not in examining them. And examining more than one child a day is draining for me. So, what do you do if you share this challenge of examining young children with the implementation of the pediatric Essential Health Benefit under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which has mandated eye exams for children?

Fortunately, I observed this about myself more than a decade ago. As I was looking to add a second doctor to our practice, I specifically looked for a doctor who brought a passion for pediatrics to the practice as well as an interest in cultivating a vision therapy practice. Dr. Amy Keller fit that profile and joined my practice in 2005. Her lack of interest in managing glaucoma patients made our skill sets complementary. In addition her special interest in the challenging contact lens fit and dry eye round out a valuable doctor.

In 2011, we were finding our schedule busier and needed additional doctor coverage. Dr. Kari Cardiff joined our practice and shares Dr. Keller’s passion for the young folks. She had experience in performing vision therapy and brought an additional passion for vision rehabilitation. Her addition has allowed the expansion of specialty services in the practice, adding greater value for our patients.

Today, patients who come to our practice are matched with a doctor passionate about meeting their vision care needs. Young folks see Dr. Keller or Dr. Cardiff, glaucoma patients usually see me, and patients in need of special services are connected with the doctor best suited for them. Other professionals build practices centered around the strengths and interests of the individual doctors. We can learn from that model.

If seeing young patients is not your interest yet you anticipate an increase in pediatric patients, consider the addition of a colleague who has a passion for the young patients. Your patients deserve someone who is excited about caring for them.