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School Vision Tests – Are They Sufficient?

Busy parents across the nation are tackling to-do lists as their kids prepare for a new school year, and it’s tempting to reevaluate the tasks to see what can be removed or saved for a later date. One item that should definitely be on your child’s back to school to-do list is a comprehensive eye exam. Kids today typically receive a vision test annually administered by a school nurse, but don’t let this simple vision test replace your annual visit to an eye doctor.

The vision tests administered in school can detect basic problems, but not all vision problems. According to the American Optometry Association, school vision tests are intended help identify children who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. However, they should not be relied on to provide the same results as a comprehensive eye and vision examination.
To better understand why school administered vision tests should not replace regular visits to your eye doctor, consider the following factors that limit their effectiveness:
Limited testing – Many vision tests only examine distance visual acuity. The ability to see clearly in the distance is important, but it does not give any indication of how well the eyes focus up close or how they work together.
Untrained personnel – Often times a vision test is conducted by administrative personnel, school nurses, or volunteers who have little or no training. While well intentioned, these individuals do not have the knowledge to competently assess screening results.
Inadequate testing equipment – The scope of vision tests may be limited by the type of testing equipment available. Factors such as room lighting, testing distances and maintenance of the testing equipment can also affect test results.
Also check out: Four Vision Problems Your Child May Inherit From You

So before you postpone that upcoming trip to have your child’s eyes examined by the eye doctor, consider these facts:
1 in 4 kids has a vision problem that can cause problems in learning and behavior.
Virtually everything kids learn comes through their eyes, so vision problems put them at a severe disadvantage in school and other activities.
The World Health Organization reported an estimated 19 million children are visually impaired.
5 – 10% of preschoolers and 25% of school-aged children have vision problems. Early identification of a child’s vision problem is crucial because, if left untreated, some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss.