Back-to-School: The Importance of Vision Screening

The back-to-school season is a busy time of year for families with children. School supplies, new clothes, backpacks – the list of things necessary to help your student begin a new school year is daunting. One thing that should be near the top of your back-to-school list is a vision screening for your child. The old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true, especially with children’s eye health.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recognizes August as Back-to-School Eye Health month, so we’ll discuss the importance of vision screening, the difference between a vision screening and an eye exam, how often screenings should be done, and the screening options available.

What’s a vision screening?

A vision screening and an eye exam may sound similar, but they are drastically different.

A vision screening can be performed by a pediatrician, family physician, nurse, or trained technician during a child’s regular medical checkup. These screenings take less time, and can be done more frequently, than an eye exam. Eye exams are conducted by an ophthalmologist or eye care professional and are recommended if a problem is detected during a vision screening. Eye exams are more comprehensive and usually involve the child’s eyes being dilated.

Since only 2 to 4 percent of children have eye problems that require ophthalmic treatment, according to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, vision screenings are a more cost-effective and efficient way of diagnosing eye conditions in children versus comprehensive eye exams.

Forms of screenings

Depending on the age of a child and the practitioner giving the exam, the following tests are available.

Objective testing

Subjective testing

Frequency of screenings

It’s recommended for children to have vision screenings at the following stages of life:

DMEI optometrist Dr. Jessica Lucas says that children may not speak up when they have issue seeing.

“Many children who need glasses rarely complain about having vision problems. These children are used to their vision being blurry and it often takes a detailed eye examination to discover they need corrective lenses.”

It’s important to note that in the state of Oklahoma, children are required to have eye screenings upon entering kindergarten, first grade, and third grade.

No matter the age of your child, it’s important to take notice if vision problems arise. Knowing the difference between vision screenings and eye exams, the frequency of screenings, and the forms of screenings available will better educate parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers of the importance of eye health.

To request an appointment for your child’s eye screening with one of our physicians at Dean McGee Eye Institute, visit our website or call us today at 405-271-6060 or 800-787-9012.