It’s not uncommon for children in the middle years to be routinely screened for a number of common physical conditions in this case, hearing and vision tests are two of the most frequent evaluations and while they both should be identified before a child joins or goes back to school, some difficulties with hearing or vision can develop later in life or go unnoticed in entirety. Note that even mild deficits in optical health can significantly affect a child’s ability to learn and he or she may experience difficulty reading the board, but unfortunately, may not know that they are seeing differently from anyone else.
Luckily, in some states, screening tests ranging from the administration of necessary immunizations to dental checks, scoliosis evaluations, including blood pressure readings, height, and weight measurements, hearing as well as optical tests are mandated by law. If you live in such districts in which nurses are available for these tests and you are notified that these screenings have turned up a potential problem in your child’s vision, have him or her checked by an eye care doctor.
All students entering government or private schools will be required to have health screenings before the start of school in September and while your child’s health screenings can be performed by a private doctor, that doctor can do so provided he or she completes the school health screening forms provided by the Public Health Department. Your child should receive an eye examination every year, or more frequently if recommended by your doctor of optometry particularly if specific problems or risk factors exist because optical changes can occur without you or your child.
Remember that even though most schools try to do a good job of evaluating students’ vision, but the American Optometric Association emphasizes that such screening should not replace a thorough, professional eye exam. As far as school vision screenings are concerned, they only go as far as checking the following;
- A child’s distance vision to reveal nearsightedness eyesight
- The sharpness of a student’s vision
- The presence of a refractive error
While the school vision screening is an important safety net, it may not do a good job of giving you an accurate assessment of your child’s overall eye health, including his or her close-up skills needed for reading, such as tracking, focusing, or binocular vision.
The American Optometric Association recommends having a kid’s eyes tested from the as early as 6-months, 3 years and 5 years, then annually while the child joins school. This is because a measure of central visual acuity and other testing requires specialized equipment in the hands of a professional ophthalmologist or optometrist who can perform a comprehensive examination of a child’s vision and provide necessary eye care.
Again, a school vision screening shouldn’t substitute comprehensive eye care and vision examination because, when performed by a qualified eye doctor it can reveal even alleviate serious eye conditions or illness diseases.