Vision Screenings For Children

by Jan 31, 2023

When children begin school, they frequently have vision screenings to help identify any large visual deficits or problems. These screenings are usually performed by the school nurse with a limited amount of equipment and testing ability. While these screenings can be a valuable way to detect an unknown visual problem, these screenings should not be considered as a substitute for an annual routine eye exam. Children should have an eye exam by an eye doctor at least once before starting school and then yearly thereafter.

What is Done at an Eye Exam?

A comprehensive eye examination is a full examination of the health of the eye and the vision.

This includes checking the vision, checking for glasses, checking the eye pressure, evaluating the health of the front and back of the eyes, and making sure that the eyes are able to work together properly.

When all of these steps are complete, a true picture of the health of the eyes can be seen and any diagnoses can be made.

Only checking vision – particularly only checking vision in the distance – is simply not enough information to make decisions upon.

What is Done at a Vision Screenings?

All vision screenings are slightly different in what they check and how it is performed.

The most basic of screenings involve simply checking the distance vision using a paper chart on a wall.

This can help identify if the child is significantly nearsighted and may have issues seeing the board.

More involved vision screenings may also include a basic eye movement test, a basic eye alignment test, and assessing the near vision as well as the distance.

The more testing and information that is gathered at a vision screening, the better the screening is at identifying possible issues.

Why it is Important to Have an Eye Exam Even if the Child Passed a Screening

Passing a limited vision screening can mean that the eyes are healthy and there are absolutely no issues.

It can also mean that the child is able to compensate for any issue that is present or that the tests performed were unable to identify that type of issue.

A common finding is that a child is able to pass a vision screening but then is determined to be farsighted and needs glasses.

The farsighted child is able to see the eye chart, but the effort it requires can lead to eye strain and headaches during school time without glasses on.

At a comprehensive eye exam, all aspects of the vision are evaluated in detail and the health of the eyes is also assessed by the eye doctor.

There are several conditions that are thankfully uncommon but still a concern if the child has never had a comprehensive eye examination including an underdeveloped eye, an infection in the back of the eyes, a tumor in the eyes, and many other serious medical conditions that are able to be detected with an eye exam.

If the child fails the vision screening, it is even more important to have a comprehensive eye exam to determine what aspect of the vision was deemed outside of the normal limits.


Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about vision screening for children. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Amy Quan, Patricia Jones, and Joseph Goldberg provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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