The Need to Modernize Vision-Screening Practices in Schools
Vision disorders are considered the fourth most common disability in the United States and also one of the most prevalent handicapping childhood conditions.* In most states, government mandates only require students in a “few” grades to be screened despite the mounting body of evidence that reveals vision changes occur the most between the ages of 11-14.** Florida statute, for example, does not require students in second, fourth and fifth grades, as well as seventh through twelfth grades to get screened, overlooking critical age groups in eight out of the thirteen school years.
Transitions Optical held a charitable vision-screening program where more than 500 students at Palmetto Elementary School in Florida presented permission from parents to participate. Prevent Blindness Florida invited PediaVision to conduct the screening using the award-winning device called Spot.
The program's objective was to screen 537 students in a timely manner without disrupting classroom schedules. Any student identified with a potential vision issue would be referred to a mobile eye clinic operated by lens manufacturer Transitions Optical and vision insurance company VSP. Those not seen on the mobile eye clinic were referred to a participating VSP eye care provider for a complete eye examination and follow-up eye care.
With Spot, the Palmetto school screening was completed in under five hours; the entire screening only required two PediaVision team members – a stark contrast to prior screening engagements, which could take weeks and sometimes even months due to equipment limitations and student volume.
Of the 537 students screened, 93 were recommended for follow-up care. Additionally, Spot captured definitive results on 100% of students, including 19 special needs children. By screening every grade instead of the exclusive state-mandated grades, Spot was able to identify those students who had been missed in prior years or had not obtained follow-up care from previous screenings.
This presentation will underscore the urgent need to improve the current standard of vision care while supporting the AAP’s recent guidelines for instrument-based vision screening.
Furthermore, with the advent of new vision-screening technologies, such as Spot, which provide objective results that are consistent across multiple locations, the concept of more frequent or even annual vision screening in schools is feasible.
This concept can shift the goals of school districts from simply trying to comply with state mandates to identifying those most in need of care and equipping students to reach their full potential.
*Zabba, Joel N. “Children’s Vision Care in The 21st Century & Its Impact On Education, Literacy, Social Issues, & The Workplace: A Call To Action .” Journal of Behavioral Optometry (2011).
**Ciner, E. B.; Schmidt, Orel-Bixler, Dd, et al., Vision Screening of Preschool Children: Evaluating the Past, Looking toward the Future, Optom Vision Science, 1998; 75: 571 – 84.