Fight for eye care at the Florida Capitol

Posted at 7:55 PM, Apr 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-07 17:09:38-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)--The fight for infant eye care continues at the Florida Capitol in a push for what's being called Joey's Bill.

It's a call for early detection of diseases that lead to blindness and even death.

Supporters say it's as easy as using the right tools.

"Joey passed away 13 years ago because of what we did not know," said Pam Bergsma with the Retinoblastoma Awareness Foundation. "We learned this information the hardest way possible."

Each day, children and infants are going blind or even worse, losing their lives at such young ages simply because early detection of eye irregularities are going unnoticed

"Early detection because that's the key to giving our children the best sight possible when they start school," said Bergsma.

Visual impairments are more common than you may think. At least one in four children ranging from birth to five years of age, experience eye sight problems that could possibly be avoided through eye dilation and examining flash photos of the pupil.

After the death of her three year old grandson Joey, Pam discovered that his pediatrician didn't check his eyes correctly, in order to detect Retinoblastoma which ended up claiming his life.

"If his pediatrician would've used this correctly, at his 18-month exam, Joey would not have died at the age of three, he'd have his eye, he'd have his sight and he would be 17 this year," said Bergsma.

Since then, pam has filed the infant eye care bill and even though it hasn't passed just yet, she believes more can be done during regular eye exams viewing her grandson's death as a driving force and ultimate purpose to educate others.

"This is why Joey came, he chose me to be his grandma," said Bergsma. "He wanted to make sure every child had the best sight possible when they started school. This is his message and I promised him I'd fix it the night before he died."