The political skullduggery in North Carolina has put a black cloud over a childrens vision law that was ushered through by optometrist and House Speaker Jim Black in August 2005. The state school boards association, 87 local boards of education and at least one individual sued the state to repeal it, saying that a mandatory eye exam is an unconstitutional financial barrier to a free public education. A judge put the law on hold in March 2006.

At that time, optometrist Hal Herring, president of the North Carolina State Optometric Society, said, It would be a shame for children if the legislature does repeal the law because the law really does have tremendous merit. In North Carolina, were currently missing amblyopia in many children, but this problem could be fixed if we caught it early enough.

On March 7, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley signed into law a vision screening bill that takes the place of the repealed mandatory eye exam law. The effort was spearheaded by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, and the North Carolina Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons.

This law recommends a comprehensive follow-up exam for those who fail the vision screening. It provides $500,000 in state funds to cover expenses for children who are unable to afford the exams. Details of what the screening requires were not available at press time.

Vol. No: 144:03Issue: 3/15/2007