The Importance of Vision Screenings for Children & Adults

For some, routine vision screenings simply do not make their way onto the annual calendar for check-ups. This is especially true for adults who have perfect to near-perfect eye sight.

However, there are a variety of reasons in which routine vision screenings should be mandatory. By maintaining regular screenings for children and adults, problems with eye sight can be caught in the beginning, rather than addressed when it is too late.

Perhaps you remember as a child being brought to the nurse’s office for your routine vision screening test. These tests were provided regularly for a reason. Vision screening in children is essential in helping with a child’s development. Early screenings can help identify children at certain risk for irreversible issues. To find out more about the importance of eye screenings for both adults and children, continue below.

The Difference Between Vision Screenings and Eye Exams

First, it should be understood that there is a difference between an eye exam and a vision screening. While both are equally important in children and adults, vision screenings are less comprehensive than an eye exam. Vision screenings are intended to assess vision issues and use a special camera to help identify problems that can lead to poor vision and the need for glasses. An eye exam, on the other hand, will include the following:

  • Color Blindness Test
  • Ocular Motility Test
  • Depth Perception Test
  • Retinoscopy
  • Refraction
  • Glaucoma
  • Pupil Dilation

Vision tests will measure the sharpness of your vision, often using a projected eye chart. A cover test can also be part of vision screening, which determines when an uncovered eye can pick up a fixed target while the other eye is covered. This will be able to indicate issues with binocular vision or amblyopia, otherwise known as lazy eye.

Why Early Vision Screening For Infants Is Important

Adults and young children are not the only ones who can receive a vision screening in order to detect problems. Infants too, can have poor vision which can affect their behavior, development and overall learning abilities. According to the American Optometric Association, the very first eye exam that an infant should have is at the age of six months. While this may seem young to some, early detection is key, especially when symptoms might not be overtly obvious. Vision issues can manifest with time, so it is critical that infants receive routine screenings in order to maintain prevention.

Why Early Vision Screening For Children Is Important

Early vision screenings for children are an integral part of their growth and development. When eye issues in children are not caught early, this can lead to irreversible vision loss. Easy vision screenings will help identify children who are at risk for permanent vision loss. Amblyopia is a common condition in children who are just born up until 8 or 9 years of age. When untreated, amblyopia will lead to vision loss that cannot be fixed. However, regular vision screenings in children can catch amblyopia early on and address it before irreversible damage occurs.

Related Article: Preventive Health Care for Children

Other issues that can be addressed in children during routine vision screenings include refractive errors and Strabismus. Strabismus occurs when a brain sees two different images because the eyes are misaligned. Young children may tend to ignore the image, which is called suppression. This can cause the eyes to not develop properly, which will result in long term vision loss. Refractive errors are more common in children, especially those who have blurry vision. Regular vision screenings can help assess issues with blurry vision and either recommend a thorough eye screening with an ophthalmologist and even glasses.

Why Vision Screenings for Adults Are Important

It is not only the infants and children who benefit from vision screenings regularly, but adults, too. In fact, as eye sight begins to decline as time goes on, adults should be incorporating regular screenings into their annual checkup list. Older adults tend to forgo routine eye maintenance, incorrectly assuming that it isn’t as important as regular blood work or dental care. However, routing vision screenings are essential for adults who should never take a risk with their eye sight as they grow older. Vision loss in adults can be commonly associated with:

  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Macular degeneration

When treated early, these issues can be handled properly and not run the risk of an adult losing his or her eyesight.

Where to Get a Vision Screening

For most children, having a routine vision screening is part of the school curriculum. Vision screenings are conducted once or twice a year in order to maintain records for children over time. However, there are other ways in which a child can have a vision screening when necessary. For starters, making an appointment with an ophthalmologist is always recommended. There are many different pediatric ophthalmology offices throughout the country that can assist fully with any routine vision or eye exam for children.

For adults, it might be a bit trickier to navigate, especially for those who do not have a regular ophthalmologist. If possible, find an ophthalmologist nearby who can become a regular point of contact for annual screenings and visits. Also, there is the option of free screenings that are available depending on the area. For instance there are many public and private organizations that offer free vision screenings throughout the year for those who do not have insurance or cannot afford routine eye care and prescription glasses. A few ways in which you can get a free eye screening include:

  • Health fairs
  • Senior centers
  • Eye glass stores
  • Local malls
  • Schools
  • Events

There may also be private ophthalmology offices which conduct free vision screenings during certain days out of the year. It is important to research all of the available options to you so that you can find a reliable, affordable way to maintain vision screenings every year.

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