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Bill expanding vision screening in schools one step closer to becoming state law

So-called Atticus Act passes Senate
Posted at 6:35 PM, Mar 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-10 18:35:27-05

After years of headaches, nausea and double vision, a Howard County middle-schooler thought all the pains and problems he was having in school were normal.

"I mean it's been seven years of not knowing what to do for him," said Catherine Carter.

The Howard county mom was desperate.  Her son Atticus had 20/20 vision, yet would complain of blurry words and feeling nauseous while reading and writing in school.       

Finally when Atticus was in fifth grade, the family got some answers.

"We went to the eye doctors, he says he has double vision,” Carter said. “We talk to Atticus, he says yeah the words turn blurry and they get double and the world gets double, isn't that normal? Isn't it normal to always be in pain when you're trying to read? Isn't it normal to have headaches and dizziness and all this? And we're like no, this is not normal."

Atticus was diagnosed with binocular vision disorder, basically his eyes are misaligned.

Right now, school systems are required by law to test students' visual acuity in each eye. The Carters have been fighting to require more extensive screenings in the state, and a bill in Annapolis would expand the eye test to check for about 14 separate conditions.

Johns Hopkins Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Doctor David Guyton, says there is not one computerized machine that can check for all of the disorders mandated in the proposed law.

"It's not the sort of screening test that I would necessarily put together because it's exhaustive,” he said. “And it would require a good deal of time and effort and funding to do."

Guyton says an exam like that would need to be done by a professional.          

A few weeks ago, Atticus testified in favor of the legislation. Friday, it passed in the Senate, the House version is still in committee.

"I think it's about time that schools actually understand what this is and get educated and they start properly diagnosing the kids," said Carter.

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