Vision plays an important role in children’s physical, cognitive, and social development. More than one in five preschool-age children enrolled in Head Start have a vision disorder. Uncorrected vision problems can impair child development, interfere with learning, and even lead to permanent vision loss; early detection and treatment are critical. Visual functioning is a strong predictor of academic performance in school-age children, and vision disorders of childhood may continue to affect health and well being throughout the adult years.
- Due to the time-sensitive nature of amblyopia treatment, vision screening for preschool-age children is considered a cost effective investment. 40
- An analysis of the costs and outcomes of three screening scenarios found all three to be cost effective given a “willingness to pay” by policymakers of $4,000 to $10,500 for each case of visual loss prevented (depending on the method of screening). 41
- Analyses of costs that take into account the quality-of-life effects of treatment for amblyopia have found that the societal benefits of both vision screening and comprehensive eye exams outweigh the costs. 42
- The medical home is an important site of vision screening. Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment program requires vision services to be provided “at intervals that meet reasonable standards as determined in consultation with medical experts” for all Medicaid enrollees younger than 21 years of age. 44
- However, in nine states examined for a 2010 report by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, 60 percent of children on Medicaid received no vision screenings. 45
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services does not require states to report vision screenings, and has determined that such a requirement is not feasible at this time due at least in part to the lack of access to data from school-based screenings and the lack of standard billing codes for screening vision in children younger than 3 years of age. 46
Follow-Up Rates and System
- No standardized system is in place to track screening and follow up across providers and sites in which screenings occur. 13
- A system is sorely needed, both to provide population-level data and to ensure that individual children receive necessary services.
- Screening should occur annually (best practice) or at least once (acceptable minimum standard) between the ages of 3 and 6 years, and periodically throughout the school years for children who do not receive comprehensive eye exams.
Children & Vision Problems
- Between 20-25 percent of children between the ages of one and 17 have a problem with their eye- sight. 1,2,3,4
- Vision disorders are the most prevalent handicapping condition in children, 5
- and untreated vision problems can lead to physical discomfort, permanent vision loss and limitations in academic performance. 2
- Eighty percent of children’s learning is achieved through their visual processing of information; 6
- therefore, those who have difficulty seeing are more likely to struggle with tasks such as reading, making mistakes copying notes, misaligning numbers in columns, and struggling with filling out Scantron forms to record answers to standardized exams. 2, 7, 8
- Underscoring the importance of vision to academic achievement, a study conducted in the Oklahoma Public School District among elementary school students found that visual acuity was a greater predictor of performance on specific standardized tests than race or socioeconomic status. 9
- Vision problems diagnosed and treated early, lower the potential to negatively affect a child’s development. 5, 11
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children receive a comprehensive eye exam by a vision professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist) upon entering kindergarten and every two years there after. However, various barriers keep this from occurring; only 33 percent of young children across the country actually receive eye exams before starting school.” 12
A federal panel of health experts has recommended that all preschool-age children be regularly screened for vision problems. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says it found “fair evidence” that vision screenings for young children are reasonably good at identifying lazy eye, crossed eyes, and other vision problems.
The independent advisory panel also found that early treatment, particularly for the potentially sight-stealing lazy eye, can lead to improved vision. The task force concludes in guidelines posted on its Website this month “the benefits of screening are likely to outweigh the potential harms.”
But now there’s debate over the effectiveness of the most commonly used screening tools to spot problems in the youngest children.
Initial results from an ongoing study of several thousand preschoolers in five cities, published in the April 2004 issue of Ophthalmology and sponsored by the National Eye Institute, suggest that the 11 most common tools used in vision screenings vary widely in their effectiveness for detecting children with lazy eye and other problems.
Vision disorders are the fourth most prevalent class of disability in the United States, and the most prevalent disability in childhood, according to the National Eye Institute, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, but only 22 percent of preschool children receive some type of vision screening.
Kentucky is the only state that requires comprehensive eye exams for children before they enter kindergarten. Typically, the responsibility for spotting vision problems in children falls to pediatricians, primary-care physicians, and school nurses, who typically rely on simple tests for distance vision.
(“Ky. Law Focuses on Youngsters’ Eyesight,” April 30, 2003.)
References Fact 1:
National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health Prevent Blindness 211 W. Wacker Dr.; Suite 1700 Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (800) 331-2020 E-mail: email@example.com
References Fact 2:
Page 5 – Envisioning Good Vision Care for Philadelphia Children, PCCY, July 2011
References Fact 3:
(“Ky. Law Focuses on Youngsters’ Eyesight,”April 30, 2003.)
Recommended educational adjustments for the child, if any, which may include the following: preferential seating in the classroom, eyeglasses for full-time use in school, eyeglasses for part-time use in school.
With “good” visual acuity can we uplift, inspire and motivate individuals to live a positive life, and reach their highest potential, and thrive in their field of dreams?
Better Vision For Children Foundation (BVC) is a non-profit charity that offers free comprehensive sponsored vision testing for infants and preschoolers, working to prevent and cure partial or total blindness resulting from amblyopia (Lazy Eye), Autism, A.D.D., Diabetes and Eye Cancer.
BVC is a 100% volunteer organization that has screened over 300,000 children in the U.S. and Mexico since 1985. Only 3 – 4% of children in the U.S. receive eye care services before the age of six. Most vision-related diseases are completely curable if detected and treated at an early age. The sole purpose of BVC is to help identify eye diseases that cause death and eye disorders through our program of free mass testing, thanks to supporter donations and sponsors.
Organization, Objectives, and Utilization of Donations
The Better Vision for Children Foundation (B.V.C.) is a nonprofit public benefit association which is organized and operated for charitable purposes. B.V.C. has established its tax exempt status under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.