Children Blinded and Dying for the Price of a Gumball

Released on = April 8, 2005, 12:12 am

Press Release Author = Pam Bergsma

Industry = Non Profit

Press Release Summary = Some Florida legislators are blocking the passage of a bill that would protect infants from vision loss and even death, against a flood of support by the public and their fellow legislators.

Press Release Body = The Infant Eye Care bill is sitting in the General Health Care Committee of the Florida house gathering dust, not because of a lack of support. The 13 member committee includes 7 members who are co-sponsors of HB1055, better known as "Joey's bill".

Seven out of 13 members is a majority vote, so why isn't the bill being heard? We doubt it could be the additional cost to the Florida taxpayers, since the proposed legislation will cost very little to enact and save thousands in long term medical treatment for children who have been needlessly blinded.

One in every 677 live births in the US are affected with a treatable eye disease or anomaly that will cause blindness, if left undetected. Current Florida statutes, as standardized by the American Academy of Pediatrics, mandate that all pediatricians (upon parental consent) perform infant vision exams. This must be done at prescribed
intervals and in a darkened room. The Infant Eye Care Bill is asking for one additional step - eye dilation prior to the screening exam. Several ocular diseases, that could blind or even kill a child, are not easily detected without dilation.

Pam Bergsma, who lost her grandson Joey to a deadly eye cancer called retinoblastoma, has been traveling the roads of Florida for 3 years presenting awareness and educational seminars wherever she can. She has also fought relentlessly to get proper vision screening legislation enacted. Legislation that would save children's vision, help them avoid the horror of losing an eye, and even save their very lives.

So, what is it going to be? Are we going to trade the cost of a gumball for the devastation of losing an eye or a child's life? If you don't think this is good government decision-making, call Gayle Harrell, General Health Care Committee Chair, at (850) 488-8749. Tell her to brush the dust off HB1055 and submit it for a vote, because you believe a child's vision and life are worth far more than a gumball.

Web Site =

Contact Details = Pam Bergsma

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