Is an Eye Screening the Same as an Eye Examination?

When was the last time you took your child to the optometrist for an eye examination? You’re not sure? But it’s okay, because your child’s whole class had their eyes tested at school and the result was that everything was fine. So that means we can skip going to the optometrist this year, right? Actually, not really. A school eye screening isn’t the same thing as a comprehensive eye examination. Here are the differences.

What does Vision Screening entail?

The vision screening often offered in school generally checks for visual acuity, meaning that they have your child identify letters (or pictures, depending on age) on a wall chart. Some tests include a reading or close vision test as well. These tests help to catch some basic vision problems, such as Myopia (Nearsightedness), Hyperopia (Farsightedness) or Astigmatism. This is very helpful, but cannot be considered an adequate replacement for a comprehensive eye exam.

What does a Comprehensive Eye Exam entail?

Not only does a comprehensive eye exam test visual acuity, it also involves examining the overall health of the eye. Peripheral vision, eye pressure and reaction speed will be tested. Your optometrist will also look for early signs of eye diseases such as Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) or conditions such as Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) or Strabismus (Misaligned Eyes). Another common condition an optometrist is trained to watch for is Computer Vision Syndrome, which is becoming more common in our technological society. Early detection of eye conditions, problems or diseases can save your child from more serious problems in the future.

What signs can I watch for at home?

Symptoms of potential vision problems to watch out for in your child include repeatedly blinking or rubbing his/her eyes, lack of interest in reading (or outright refusal to read) and sitting close to TV, tablet or computer screen. Another warning sign is a sudden dislike for school, often accompanied by a gradual drop in performance. Complaints of sore eyes or headaches may also be a symptom of vision problems.

What do I do if my child is exhibiting signs of potential eye problems?

The best solution is prevention, so it is a good idea to make sure that they have regular eye appointments. School aged children should see an optometrist at least once per calendar year. But even if your child has been having regular eye examinations, book an appointment at the first sign of potential vision problems. Never take a chance with your child’s eyes.