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Vision Screening. What to Know.

Many school districts provide vision screenings to students as a service to try to identify vision problems that may affect their performance in the class room. It is important for parents to understand what they are what they are not. Dr David Sweeney from Vision Source Insight Eyecare provides important information on what to know about Vision Screenings and why they are not a good substitute for a comprehensive eye examination performed by an eye doctor.

What is a Vision Screening?

Vision screenings are commonly conducted by Schools Districts, primary care doctors as part of a broader physical exam or by the DMV when applying for a driver’s license. They are mostly eye chart reading tests from a specified distance and generally take seconds to complete. In most cases they are pass/fail and in the event of a fail, the person is referred to an optometrist for further testing and evaluation.

Vision Screenings can be Valuable

There is value to vision screenings. Because they are delivered broadly to a population that may not have considered receiving an eye exam, they can identify cases where vision issues exist and spur those who fail to pursue further eye care. Youngsters who are unable to read and participate appropriately in school can be encouraged to seek further vision testing and can improve their academic performance.

Vision Screenings can be Misleading

The danger according to Dr Sweeney is that passing a vision screening creates a false sense of security even when there are underlying vision issues. These people are sometimes less likely to visit an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. A vision screening does not provide anything like the information received from a comprehensive eye and vision examination and the differences should not be confused.

Three limitations of vision screenings

Vision Screenings are not designed to identify underlying vision conditions and there are 3 critical differences:

  • Testing Limitations. Many vision screenings test only for distance visual acuity. While the ability to see clearly in the distance is important, it does not indicate how well the eyes focus up close or work together. It also does not give any information about the health of the eyes or changing elongation of the eye that can develop into myopia. See Myopia Treatment
  • Personnel Training. Vision screenings are mostly conducted by personnel with little to no training beyond recording the results of the screening. They carry no qualifications or possess limited knowledge of eye health and care. They are not eye care professionals.
  • Testing Equipment Limitations. In most cases screenings are limited to a line on the floor and an eye chart. There is little to provide accurate measurement beyond pass and fail. It is too easy for children to look around the occluder and use both eyes if one eye is not seeing well.

The Benefits of a Comprehensive Eye versus a Vision Screening?

Only a Doctor of Optometry or Ophthalmologist can conduct a comprehensive eye and vision examination. These doctors have the specialized training necessary to make a definitive diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
A comprehensive adult eye examination usually takes about an hour and includes:

  • Patient History
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Function Tests
  • Refraction
  • Tonometry to measure eye pressure as part of a glaucoma assessment
  • Slit Lamp Biomicroscope Examination / Ophthalmoscopy / Retinal Imaging

See. The Comprehensive Eye Exam at Vision Source Insight Eyecare.

Vision screening programs can’t substitute for regular professional vision care. Children or adults who pass a vision screening could still have an eye health or vision problem. Comprehensive eye examinations are the only effective way to confirm or rule out any eye disease or vision problem.