By Crystal Britt
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Many Heartland kids headed back to school Thursday, others will in the coming days.
What if there was something preventing your child from learning, like his or her vision?
Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois now require our youngest students to have comprehensive eye exams from a state licensed optometrist or physician.
"It's just a really good idea to check your child's eyes when you start school," said Deena Ring-Director of Special Services for Cape Public Schools. "There may be things that come to light like looking at a board, or a further distance to what the children have been used to."
Since becoming law in Missouri in 2008 offices like the Marion Eye Center in Cape Girardeau have seen an increase in patients.
"We've been seeing a lot of children," said Dr. Rachel Shewmake.
"It is a strong suggestion that comes from the state," said Deena Ring.
But, if you chose to opt out there are no penalties.
"There is no school exclusion. We will not be calling saying your child cannot come to school until this is completed," said Ring.
School nurses do conduct eye screenings during the school year, but the district says it's not the same as what the state is recommending.
"I think it was pushed through because a lot of kids were missed through the screening. Screenings are great if you have a distance problem, it's not good though at catching children who are far-sided or have trouble focusing up close with reading," said Dr. Shewmake.
The cost for the exam is on the parent or guardian. You'll want to check and see if your insurance will cover an exam.
"The earlier you catch it the better," said Shewmake.
The Cape Girardeau School District asks the exams be completed by January 1st.
Again, a student won't be denied attendance in school for failing to get the exam.