A School Vision Screening is Not a Substitute for a Comprehensive Eye Exam

A school vision screening, while a highly useful tool in schools, is limited and designed only to check your child’s distance vision. It can tell you how well your child can read a chart that is 20 feet away and it may also have a color vision test, but the simplicity of the test will miss a number of other possible vision problems.

A vision screening tests only for visual sharpness, meaning it can overlook the 15-20% students that have other visual disorders. Your child may pass the vision screening but still not see well enough to read a book. She or he may be “farsighted”, have tracking problems, a binocular vision disorder or amblyopia (lazy eye), none of these are diagnosed in a routine school vision screening.

If your child doesn’t see well, she or he won’t learn well.

The vision skills that are needed for successful reading and learning are more complex than 20/20 vision. They are about more than just clear vision, they are about understanding and responding to what they are seeing

Visual skills needed for successful learning:

  • Visual Acuity – seeing clearly at a distance
  • Eye Focusing – being able to maintain clear vision as the distance to an object changes, like when looking at the board, to a paper and back
  • Eye Tracking – keeping eyes on a target when moving along a page or following a thrown object.
  • Eye Teaming – both eyes working together when reading or judging distances in sports or school
  • Hand-Eye Coordination – using visual information to direct ones hands
  • Visual Perception
    Recognition – knowing the difference between letters
    Comprehension – the ability to “picture” in one’s mind what is happening
    Retention – the ability to remember details about what one has just read

Children, particularly younger children, might not be able tell you when they are having trouble seeing things. So even if they have passed a vision screening pay attention to these warning signs.

  • Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
  • Sitting close to the TV or holding reading materials close to the face
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading, coloring, puzzles and other close activities
  • Frequent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Difficulty remembering what he or she read
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding

The AOA says that up to 80% of a child’s learning happens through their eyes. Visual problems can develop at any time without you or your child noticing. Make sure that your child gets the best chance she or he can get by making eye exams a regular part of your back-to-school process.

Please call our office today or requests an appointment online to schedule your child’s comprehensive eye exam.

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The Center for Vision Development provides care for Severna Park, Arnold, Bowie, Washington D.C., Prince Frederick, Crofton, Glen Burnie, Laurel, Columbia, Baltimore, Easton and Salisbury and all of the surrounding communities. Call us at 410-268-4393 for information about your location and to learn more about our practice.