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  • Writer's pictureEsna van der Walt

The importance of vision screening in children

Did you know that 1 in 20 preschool-aged children and 1 in 4 school-aged children have a vision disorder? Regular school vision screenings are the best way to detect and manage potential problems early on to ensure that your child's eyes are healthy, seeing properly and working together for clear, comfortable vision.

What do vision screenings show us?

Vision plays a crucial role in children’s cognitive, physical and social development. Through a vision screening, we can determine whether a child’s eyes are healthy and developing well, and identify vision disorders such as amblyopia (poor vision in an otherwise normal eye), strabismus (misalignment of the eyes), significant refractive error (being nearsighted, farsighted or astigmatism) or other eye abnormalities.

If some of these eye problems are not detected and treated in the first few months or years of life, it can lead to irreversible vision loss. Because the majority of children’s learning in the early years is done through sight, poor vision could also affect their academic behaviour. Children who can’t see properly often disengage in class and could be labelled as being distracted, hyperactive or having an attention deficit.

Signs of possible vision problems

At an early age, it’s often difficult for parents to pick up mild vision impairments in their children. Children are not always aware that aren’t seeing properly, and the symptoms may at times seem random. Unfortunately, this means that vision impairment is very often identified and treated too late.

Be on the lookout for these signs that your child may need vision screening:

· Frequent squinting or head tilts

· Holding reading material close

· Losing their place when reading

· Rubbing eyes and blinking excessively

· Poor reading comprehension

· Short attention span

· Headaches, especially after long periods of reading or close work.

How often should your child do a vision screening?

To detect vision problems in children early on, the American Optometric Association recommends that children’s vision should be screened at 6 months, 3 years, 6 years and every 2 years thereafter.

Where can a vision screening be done?

School vision screenings can be done at preschools and primary schools, or individual vision screenings by an optometrist, paediatrician or GP.

How do vision screenings work?

During a vision screening, a trained healthcare practitioner will use a photo screening device to perform an objective vision screening, testing various visual risk factors. Photo screening is a great tool used to test the vision of children of all ages, as no verbal feedback is required.

Other tests included in our vision screening are visual acuity, colour vision, stereo acuity/depth perception, ocular alignment, convergence control, motilities, tracking and general eye health.

Should the practitioner pick up any possible problem or irregularity, they will refer the child to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam for further diagnosis and treatment.

Book a vision screening with us

We care about your child’s eyesight! Talk to us to book a vision screening for your child, or have Tomlinson Optometrists perform group vision screenings at your school.

Get in touch with us on WhatsApp:

Book an appointment online:

Phone 021 797 7291, email or visit us at 278B Main Road, Kenilworth.

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