Knesset panel urges subsidized eyeglasses for needy children

Twenty percent of children and youths up to the age of 18 suffer from vision problems.

April 29, 2010 04:58
1 minute read.
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The Health Ministry subsidizes corrective eyeglasses only for children who have very severe ophthalmological disease but not for others, so that the vision of some youngsters whose parents cannot afford glasses deteriorates.

This charge was made on Tuesday at a meeting of the Knesset Committee on Children’s Rights, headed by MK Danny Danon.

One Jerusalem mother of a 13-year-old girl with vision problems due to illness said that the last set of special eyeglasses cost NIS 2,000, and that just four months later, she outgrew them and needed a new pair. Another woman who has six daughters with eye problems had the same complaint.

Dr. Lisa Rubin, who is in charge of the ministry’s Mother and Child Department, conceded that it had a small budget for helping only the most serious cases.

Data prepared by the Knesset’s Center for Research and Information found that five percent of preschool children suffer from vision problems, most of them congenital. Without suitable treatment, they are liable to suffer irreversible damage to their vision, said Knesset experts.

Twenty percent of children and youths up to the age of 18 suffer from vision problems.

The center also reported that only some hospitals voluntarily perform a special vision test on newborns to detect congenital problems early, even though it has been recommended to the ministry that all babies undergo this test routinely after birth.

Family health (tipat halav) centers that check babies and toddlers do not offer a standard, universal test. Neither are all schoolchildren’s vision tested properly by the privatized school health service, it was reported.

The panel urged that all the health funds provide members’ children with eyeglasses at nominal cost, especially before entrance to first grade, and recommended that all hospitals give free vision tests to newborns.

It called on the ministry to look into the cost of including in the health basket highly subsidized eyeglasses for children.

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