Your Child's Sight

Understanding Vision Screenings and Eye Exams

In casual conversation, it’s common for people to use “eye exam” and “vision screening” as interchangeable terms, but they are not. Each has a different role to play in eye and vision care of children and adults, and in public health policy and initiatives. This page will help you understand the different role of vision screenings and professional eye examinations.

The Role of Vision Screenings

  • Identifies children who may be at high risk for eye disease or in need of a professional eye examination
  • Helps detect the possible presence ofdisorders at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective
  • Provides valuable information and education about eye health
  • Results in a referral to an eye care professional or primary care provider when screening tests indicate a need for diagnosis and treatment

The Role of Eye Examinations

  • Provides a comprehensive evaluation of vision functioning and the health of the eye
  • Is conducted by an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist who can diagnose and prescribe treatment for vision disorders

Direct Referral to an Eye Care Professional

Children at high risk of vision disorders should bypass screening and be referred directly to an eye care professional

  • Children born before 32 weeks of gestation
  • Children with neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Children with systemic diseases associated with vision problems
  • Children who have a first degree relative with strabismus or amblyopia
  • Children with noticeable abnormalities such as crossed eyes (strabismus) or droopy eyelids (ptosis)
  • Children whose parents are concerned about their vision