My Child Failed A Vision Screening

Posted on October 23, 2017

My child failed a vision screening, now what?
By: Dr. Jeffrey Colburn, MD

Fall is upon us and the school year is in full swing. That also means that our elementary school children will be getting vision screenings in the near future. Vision screenings are mandated by state law for Washington public schools for children in Kindergarten and Grades 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7. The screenings are often administered by our school nurses. My partner Dr. Weed and I are thankful for the opportunity to partner with the school nurses in this important endeavor. We had the opportunity to provide educational lectures for them at the recent regional school nurse meeting held in Spokane.

School vision screenings are an important part of the vision screening system that begins from birth with exams by the child's pediatrician or family physician. At school age, most children can participate with testing on an eye chart. The goal is to identify children with vision issues, whether they are medical eye issues or just a need for glasses.

If your child fails a vision screening at school, don't panic but be sure and get it checked out. You could have the screening repeated at your pediatrician's office or proceed directly to an appointment of an eye exam. The pediatric ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye exam looking to identify any potential vision loss that might be reversible if caught and treated early in childhood (amblyopia). We can also check for any need for glasses that might help the child see better and function their best at school and in life. Some children who fail vision screenings will end up being completely normal on a formal eye exam and not even need glasses. But if they fail a screening, it is vital to check and be sure.

Even if a child does not fail a vision screening, there may be other potential signs of eye or vision trouble that would merit a visit to see us. These would include crossing or wandering eyes, excessive squinting or blinking, difficulty with reading or near tasks, difficulty seeing things far away, eye redness or pain, or excessive eye rubbing. If you have any of these concerns or others, feel free to bring them on in and get checked.

Happy Fall everyone!