The department of motor vehicles, the school nurse and the pediatrician use vision screening to identify vision problems. Screening usually involves standing a given distance from a lettered chart, covering one eye and reading down the chart to the smallest letter possible.
According to a recent study in Australia, researchers found that results for detecting myopia in 12 -13 year olds was nearly 98%. Good news for the nearsighted, but not so good for the tweens with astigmatism or hyperopia. Only half of the hyperopic children were identified by the vision screening and 25% of the kids with astigmatism were missed.
Screenings are best designed to detect problems with distance vision, and that is important for children socially and physically, but myopia represents the least risk for reading and learning. A myopic child is more likely to notice that the board is blurry and move to the front of the classroom. Hyperopia on the other hand, makes it more difficult to see things close up and astigmatism effects vision at all distances. Children with uncorrected hyperopia and astigmatism will have more difficulty reading and writing and may not even be aware that the difficulty is due to his or her vision. These are the children that may complain of headaches, avoid reading and school related tasks.
A vision screening test identifies some vision problems, but can miss disorders that have a profound effect on a child’s ability to succeed in school.
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