Why Vision Screenings Shouldn’t Replace Eye Exams

If your child isn’t complaining about vision problems, you may be tempted to skip the standard back-to-school eye exam. But this annual exam is not only important to how your child performs in school, it’s really important to how they experience the world around them.

Preston Linley, OD, optometrist with ProMedica Physicians Eye Care, says that 80% of what we learn throughout the world comes through our visual processing. So whether it’s in the classroom, at home or on the playing field, difficulties with seeing can make it hard to learn, understand and respond.

Although school eye screenings can help detect some vision issues, Dr. Linley says they do not catch all the visual processes that can arise. In fact, the American Optometric Association states that these screenings may give a “false sense of security for those individuals who ‘pass’ the screening but who actually have a vision problem”.

In comparison, eye exams are more comprehensive, looking at the health and function of the eye in addition to vision. Dr. Linley, for instance, says he looks for how the eyes focus and turn, as well as the comprehensive health of the eyes.

Dr. Linley recommends scheduling a child’s first comprehensive eye exam between the ages of two and five, again at age six and then every year after.

“Kids grow a lot and things change a lot over a year,” explained Dr. Linley. “They will be fine one year and then the next year things can change, so that’s why it is so important to get your vision checked once a year.”

In between those visits, look for signs that your child may have vision or eye problems. “If you see a lot of squinting, closing one eye, rubbing their eyes, or if their reading speed or comprehension is delayed, it’s best to get them checked out,” said Dr. Linley.

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