As a young kid in school you could always find me sitting in the front row of the classroom. Unfortunately, my choice of desks wasn’t all about being studious -- but more about my vision problems. You see, I suffered from undiagnosed amblyopia -- the leading cause of vision loss in young Americans.

Because my case of amblyopia went untreated, I now have permanent vision loss in one eye. I want to prevent this permanent vision loss for our children, which is why I joined with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in introducing the bipartisan Vision Care for Kids Act.

While ensuring our children receive vision care so they can learn sounds like common sense, too often it’s just not happening. Just one in three children receives any vision care before entering school. The bottom line is that too many children are not getting the comprehensive exams or treatment they need.

Why is vision care for children so important? First, if detected and treated early, vision loss like I suffered form amblyopia, can be largely prevented. And since, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the most prevalent disabling childhood conditions in the United States are vision disorders, there is clearly a need.

Also, without proper care, vision disorders are an unfair and an extremely difficult obstacle for children to overcome when learning. When preparing children for school we ensure they have all the tools they need: pencils, paper, books. Yet one of the most important tools they need for school -- their vision -- is too often over looked. To me it’s a sad fact that while 80 percent of what kids learn in their early years is visual, one in four kids have a vision problem that can interfere with learning.

The bill I introduced will do just that by establishing a grant program to compliment and encourage existing state efforts to improve children’s vision care.

Specifically, grant funds will be used to:

  • Provide comprehensive eye exams to children that have been previously identified as needing such services;

  • Provide treatment or services necessary to correct vision problems identified in that eye exam; and

  • Develop and disseminate educational materials for parents, teachers and health care practitioners to help them recognize the signs of visual impairment in children.

I hope my colleagues join Sen. Dodd and me so we can ensure our children can see, learn and grow without debilitating vision disorders.