Does Your Back-to-School Checklist Include a Vision Screening?

Your child’s academic success depends on good vision.  The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, estimates that only one in three preschoolers receives vision screening.  NEI also estimates that:

  • 300,000 to 750,000 children aged 3 to 5 have amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • 450,000 to 600,000 have strabismus (eye misalignment), and
  • 1.5 million to 2.3 million children have a significant refractive error (poor vision that can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses).

“We know that children who see well are better prepared to learn,” said Michael X. Repka, MD, secretary for federal affairs at the American Academy of Ophthalmology and professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. “The eyes are directly connected to the brain, so if they are not functioning properly, it can be more difficult for a child to absorb information in the classroom. Most common eye disorders do not have warning signs and may lead to blindness in one or both eyes if left untreated. Early detection is the key to a successful outcome.”

The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers this schedule for pediatric vision screening:

  • Newborn to 3 months
  • 3 to 6 months
  • 6 to 12 months
  • 3 years
  • 5 years
  • Every 1 to 2 years after age 5 until age 18

In preparation for your vision screening, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents consider the following questions:

  • Does your child seem to see well? 
  • Does your child hold objects close to his or her face when trying to focus?
  • Do your child’s eyes appear straight or do they seem to cross or drift or seem lazy?
  • Do your child’s eyes appear unusual?
  • Do your child’s eyelids droop or does 1 eyelid tend to close?
  • Have your child’s eye(s) ever been injured?
  • Do you have a family history of eye disorders, or of early childhood use of glasses in parents or siblings?

Vision screenings can be performed as part of the child’s annual well-child exam.  In addition, many public school systems provide vision screenings for students.  Parents who do not have access to screenings can contact their local health department for support.

Sources:
Ensure Your Back-to-School Checklist Includes a Vision Screening, American Academy of Ophthalmology

American Academy of Pediatrics, Eye Examination in Infants, Children, and Young Adults by Pediatricians