Children's Vision Screening

Prevent Blindness has the only national program that trains and certifies people around the country to conduct screenings that find vision problems in preschool and school-age children. Our screening procedures are recommended by many of the nation's leading children's eye care professionals and researchers.

Why do children need vision screenings? ►Why do children need vision screenings? ▼

Young children with vision problems often do not know that the way they see the world is not the way everyone sees it. Yet vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers. They also affect one in four school children. Without early detection and treatment, children's vision problems can lead to:

  • permanent vision loss
  • learning difficulties

Only an eye doctor can diagnose and treat a vision problem, but screenings help find children who need a full eye exam. Prevent Blindness America's children's vision screenings are an accurate, cost-effective way to find vision problems in children.

What happens at a Prevent Blindness children's vision screening? ► What happens at a Prevent Blindness children's vision screening? ▼

First, a screener checks the child's eyes for signs of problems. Trained screeners note watering eyes and swollen or crusted lids. Screeners also watch how the child acts, since that may show signs of a problem. Rubbing of the eyes or tilting of the head may indicate the child has trouble seeing. Screeners consider what teachers and parents say about the child's behavior. Screeners check the child's distance vision (distance visual acuity). The screeners use the recommended charts to conduct the check. Children with problems seeing things at a distance may have trouble seeing the blackboard at school or performing well at sports.

Screeners will also test children through age 9, or third grade, to see whether the eyes are straight and how well their eyes work together. This test is important because children whose eyes do not work well together are at risk for lazy eye (amblyopia). Lazy eye can cause lifelong vision loss in the affected eye.

If it is found early enough, however, lazy eye can be treated. In general, the earlier lazy eye is found, the greater the chance of preventing permanent vision loss.

How will I know if my child needs an eye exam? ►How will I know if my child needs an eye exam? ▼

Results of the vision screening are used to assess whether a child needs to see an eye doctor. Children who need a full eye exam are referred to an eye doctor of the parent's choice. Families in financial need are directed to local agencies. They may also qualify for Vision Service Plan's Sight for Students® program.

What is photoscreening? ► What is photoscreening? ▼

Photoscreening is a tool for screening the eyes of pre-verbal or challenged children. During a photoscreening, the screener uses a special camera to take a picture of the subject's eyes. Once the instant photo is developed, a trained screener uses the photo to look for signs of vision problems.