Why Preschool Vision Screening Is So Important
According to the Vision Research Corporation, very few children complain about vision problems because they have no way of knowing that their vision is not normal. To them, it is “normal” because it is the only vision they have ever known. Most parents are comfortable with the thought that their child’s primary care physician will discover any eye problems but unfortunately, studies have shown that these providers identify as few as 25% of children with serious problems such as amblyopia. Preschool screening programs can help detect these serious problems.
The ForSight PreSchool Screening Program
Leora Wiest, ForSight's Director of Prevention Services, has been doing both preschool screenings and adult screenings for almost 20 years. She screens approximately 3,000 children a year mostly during the school year and screens adults at health fairs, businesses, retirement villages, etc. using a Titmus machine.
The preschoolers include the ages of 3 through 6 in preschools, day care centers, and child development centers. The children are screened using a Goodlite box and the Lea (picture) and HOTV charts. If the child does not pass the screening, a letter of referral will be sent home recommending he/she should be seen by an eye care professional (not a pediatrician). There are 3 reasons for referral:
- Both eye are not seeing on the same acuity line
- Both are seeing on the same acuity line but too high on the chart to pass
- A symptom or observation
Leora also calls the parents and explain why a referral was made and asks if they have any questions. Subsequently, we hope to then get a letter from the doctor stating what the doctor prescribed and/or visual acuities.
Leora Wiest also does children’s educational programs on eye safety upon request. Please contact her for details of you have a group that might benefit from such a program.
Read more about early eye exams from Leora Wiest.
For more information about the ForSight PreSchool Screening program, contact Leora Wiest at 848-1690, ext. 106.
Some of the Economic Benefits of Early Detection of Eye Problems
In addition to the impact on a child’s welfare and development, the early detection of eye problems results in direct short-term economic benefits to the educational system and to society.
Ninety percent of all information is transferred to the brain via the eyes. Most vision problems are correctable, at least to some degree. Impaired vision is most damaging in primary grades because it is at these grade levels that the foundations for learning are taught.
On the negative side, if eye problems are not found early…
- Children who are behind consume a disproportionate share of teacher’s time.
- Those who remain behind later become at risk of failing or dropping out. It requires substantial funding to help these students.
- Almost every teacher know of students who have been labeled Learning Disabled or placed in Special Ed when the problem ultimately was found to be the child simply could not see well. These students require significantly more financial resources than “normal” students.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommend timely screening for the early detection and treatment of eye and vision problems in America’s children. This includes institution of rigorous vision screening during the preschool years. Early detection of treatable eye disease in infancy and childhood can have far reaching implications for vision and, in some cases, for general health. Good vision is essential for proper physical development and educational progress in growing children. Vision screening programs should provide widespread, effective testing of preschool and early school-age children. Many serious ocular conditions, which can be found at screening are treatable, if identified in the preschool and early school-aged years.
The Most Common Condition: Amblyopia
Each year over 4,000 York County preschool children are screened for potential vision problems. The most common condition detected is amblyopia or “lazy eye”. Early detection means early treatment, increasing the probability of success and the prevention of more serious problems. Children with unacceptable results are referred to an eye care professional and follow up is provided to help ensure treatment.