July 31, 2008

Illinois is Third State to Require Comprehensive Eye Exams for Students Entering Kindergarten

Loyola Optrometrist Reports about 10 percent of Kindergarten Students Will Need Glasses

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Illinois this fall will become the third state in the nation to require incoming kindergarten students to get comprehensive eye exams.

One of the first children to benefit is 5-year-old Chloe Slater of Wheaton. A recent exam Chloe received at Loyola University Health System found she might need glasses.

Chloe's mom is a middle school reading teacher, and she has seen how students can struggle when they have trouble seeing the blackboard or reading words on a page. "I think the law is an excellent idea," Stacy Slater said.

Chloe's optometrist, Dr. Eileen Gable, has devoted a significant part of her practice this summer to doing eye exams at Loyola clinics in Maywood, Oakbrook Terrace and Hickory Hills. Gable estimates about 10 percent of her kindergarten patients will need glasses.

Among other vision problems, the exam can detect amblyopia (lazy eye). This condition occurs when one eye does not develop normal sight during early childhood. Amblyopia (am-blee-O-pee-a) typically is treated with glasses that correct errors in focusing. If glasses aren't sufficient, the child might have to wear a patch on the good eye in order to force the use of the lazy eye.

The eye exam also can detect serious eye disorders that occasionally occur in children, including glaucoma, cataracts and cancer of the eye.

"If we can make a difference in one child, the exam is worth it," Gable said. Gable is an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Mandatory school physicals already include vision screenings. But such screenings typically are limited to visual acuity (clarity). The mandatory eye exam is much more comprehensive. It usually takes an hour to an hour and a half, and includes tests of depth perception and color detection in addition to visual acuity, Gable said. The doctor determines whether the child has such vision problems as nearsightedness, astigmatism, crossed eyes and lazy eyes.

"It's a very thorough exam," Gable said.

The Illinois law follows similar laws passed by Kentucky and Missouri. Any child entering kindergarten, or enrolling for the first time in any public or private elementary school in Illinois, must submit proof of an eye exam by Oct. 15.

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Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb hospital campus and 22 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 570-licensed bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Health & Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 250-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Health & Fitness Center and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.