Can School Vision Screenings Substitute for Eye Exams?
As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your child do well in school. One of the most important tools your kid needs to succeed in school is good vision. Most schools offer vision screenings, but a school vision screening is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam. As a concerned parent, you may be wondering why your child needs a comprehensive eye exam in addition to the school vision screening. Read on to learn what a school vision screening is, how it is different from an eye exam, why eye exams are important, and how to schedule an eye exam appointment for your child.
What is a school vision screening?
A school vision screening is often conducted by the school nurse or sometimes volunteer parents. The nurse will check your child’s eyesight to assess the sharpness of their vision and look for potential refractive issues.
A refractive issue occurs when light is not focused correctly by the eye. There are several different types of refractive issues including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
School vision screenings may be slightly different for every school or school district. Most schools try to do a good job assessing students’ vision, but school vision screenings are not as thorough or precise as comprehensive eye exams.
Eye Exam vs Vision Screening
Eye exams and school vision screenings are different in a few ways.
Comprehensive Eye Exam
School Vision Screening
Who does the exams or tests
Optometrists are eye doctors, and some optometrists receive additional training to learn to take care of children’s eyes. An optometrist who has special training to treat pediatric patients should assess the health of your child’s eyes.
At a school vision screening, the school nurse will likely do the eye tests. If the school nurse sees any potential vision or eye health issues, the nurse will refer you to a local optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. At some schools, vision screenings are done by volunteers or other school personnel.
How the exams or tests are done
Optometrists have specialized tools to assess both vision and the health of all parts of the eye. The eye exam is thorough and detailed, checking for early signs of serious health issues.
School vision screenings are performed in a few different ways and the testing environment can vary from school to school. School vision screenings often involve eye charts and color identification tests.
What the exams or tests are looking for
During comprehensive eye exams, optometrists are assessing all aspects of a child’s vision and ocular health. The optometrist will review your child's medical history, evaluate both distance and near vision, binocular vision and how the eye muscles are working together, color vision, focusing ability, eye pressure and all aspects of ocular health.
School vision screenings typically test the sharpness of kids’ distance vision to see if they have 20/20 sight. Many school vision screenings do not measure a child’s close up vision.
Why are comprehensive eye exams important?
Comprehensive eye exams are important for many reasons. Vision problems do not go away on their own, and the best way to detect issues is with a comprehensive eye exam. If your child has vision problems, it can be really hard for them to do well in school. School vision screenings can catch major vision problems, but comprehensive eye exams are able to detect all types of vision issues and early working signs of health issues. Your child’s eye doctor can tell you the exact prescription your child needs and look at the health of the entire eye. Early signs of diabetes, glaucoma, and other health issues can be seen during comprehensive eye exams.
Schedule Your Child's Next Eye Exam
Even if your child “passed” a school vision screening, it is important that they have a comprehensive eye exam. Regular eye exams are an essential part of keeping babies, kids, and teens on track for educational, social, and developmental success.
We are leaders in providing high-quality and compassionate vision, dental, and orthodontic services. Help your kids thrive with regular eye exams. Visit our Vision Services page to learn more about vision care for children, and book an appointment at a convenient location near you.
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