- Q? How long does the screening take?
- A.The screening itself is very fast. A child can be screened in just a few seconds. Typically an entire class of 20 to 25 students can be done in 20 minutes or so. This minimizes both classroom disruption and distractions for the children being screened, both of which are highly important in a school screening environment.
- Q? How common are eye problems in children?
- A.Surprisingly common: Out of every 100 children, typically around 10 have an eye problem significant enough to warrant professional attention.
- Q? I know my child can see well. Why have them screened?
- A.If you know because your child has recently been examined by an eye doctor, then you are right, and you’ve done what every parent should do. Otherwise, parents have few ways to assess their child’s eyes. The ability to read road signs, for example, may simply indicate that at least one eye can see well at a distance. Very few children complain about vision problems, because they have no way of knowing that their vision isn’t normal. To them it is “normal” because it is the only vision they’ve ever known.
- Q? What kinds of problems does the screening detect?
- A.The screening detects a wide range of physical eye problems. These include nearsightedness, farsightedness, most astigmatisms, anisometropia (a difference in the eyes that can indicate or lead to amblyopia), constant eye alignment errors, and ocular media opacities, such as cataracts. Click here for some more information on these.
- Q? How can a child too young to respond be screened?
- A.The system is based on an innovative eye screening technology called “photorefraction”. The screening system itself was originally developed at and patented by NASA. It requires no response of any kind from the child. Using a very specialized camera, it produces a detailed and highly precise image of the eyes that can then be analyzed for possible problems.
- Q? What if a possible problem is detected?
- A.The child should be seen by an eye doctor for examination. The eye doctor will make a diagnosis and treatment recommendation. You may choose your own eye doctor, your primary physician can make a referral, or school or center staff may provide names of local eye doctors.
- Q? Is this screening a substitute for an eye doctor?
- A.No. As explained in the “Important Note” on the Programs Overview & Components page and on every screening result form, no screening is a substitute for examination by a qualified eye care professional. This screening detects indications of a number of common eye problems, but there can be problem indications that it does not detect. Examination by an eye care professional is always recommended as preferable to any screening.
- Q? Isn’t my child too young?
A.No, in fact, just the opposite. The earlier that many problems are detected, the easier they are to correct. Worse, some eye problems are progressive, and may cause permanent vision loss if not detected early enough. “Early enough” in some cases can be under one year old.
With any eye problem, the sooner it is corrected, the sooner the child has the benefit of good eyesight. As much as 80% of early learning is obtained visually. Poor vision can impair not only the ability to learn, but also social development, depth perception, hand-eye coordination, and a number of other areas that are important to the child, and important to the parent.