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April 21, 2004

Patti Blagojevich announces pediatric vision awareness campaign
First Lady launches first awareness initiative in the nation specifically aimed at diagnosing and treating Amblyopia

CHICAGO – Taking a significant step in the fight to protect children’s vision, Illinois First Lady Patti Blagojevich today launched a new statewide awareness campaign to educate parents about Amblyopia.  Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is the most common cause of serious vision impairment in children.  At the Chicago Children’s Museum, Mrs. Blagojevich announced Illinois is the first state in the nation to launch an awareness campaign that specifically targets Amblyopia.
“As a parent, I never really understood just how common and how serious Amblyopia could be. Parents and doctors need to work together to catch the problem early.  It’s not easy for doctors to test young children’s eyesight.  But, if parents understand more about Amblyopia, I believe that increased awareness will help save the vision of many children,” Patti Blagojevich said.
Amblyopia affects two to three percent of all children and is caused by a severe vision problem in one eye.  If it is detected in time, Amblyopia can almost always be successfully treated.  But, about 50 percent of the time, no one realizes there is a problem and children can lose their vision in one eye.
As part of the statewide awareness campaign, Governor Blagojevich declared April as Amblyopia Awareness month.  During the month of April, families and physicians alike will become more aware of the seriousness of the disorder and its lifelong effects.
To learn more about Amblyopia or to find out how a child can be tested, Illinoisans can call the Department of Public Health’s Vision and Hearing program toll-free at 1-800-547-0466.  Those without health insurance can call 1-866-4-OUR-KIDS to receive information about KidCare, the state health insurance program for children. 
State partners in the Amblyopia Awareness campaign include the Illinois Department of Public Aid, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Health and the State Board of Education. The Illinois Optometric Association, the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology, the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Illinois Pediatric Vision Foundation also joined the effort to promote Amblyopia awareness.
“If we all work together to make sure parents and doctors are well-informed about the seriousness of Amblyopia, we can prevent it and help protect the vision of all Illinois children,” said Mrs. Blagojevich. 

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