As you would expect, the answer is no. A visual screening has their own value for what it is. Many people will show visual problems on a screening that would enable them to get checked out by an eye doctor, so it's important to make sure they are detected. Unfortunately, there are many problems that can't be detected. Almost 75% of vision problems are missed by standard screenings, according to the AOA.

What is an example of something that may be missed at a school screening?

Having farsightedness is one example of something that might be missed during a visual screening with just an eye chart at 10 or 20 feet. Many people don't know the difference between farsightedness and nearsightedness. It's confusing. can I see far if I'm farsighted or is it the opposite?

We're able to catch nearsighted people easier because when they see far away, things look blurry. If a nearsighted person is not wearing glasses or contacts they will see things at a distance as blurry. For example when you're driving and looking at a sign or when you're looking down the street, things won't appear crystal clear.

Farsighted people are more difficult to catch, because their focal point is actually behind the eye. In order to see clearly from a distance, farsighted people must use their muscles to bend the lens inside their eyes. This is an active process that's continually occurring inside their eyes. And it's even going on to a higher degree, when you need to see clearly up close, that focusing power over time can drain the eye. We have plenty of focusing power when we're young, around 18 and a half units, we use roughly three units. Therefore, we have a lot of reserve. However, if you are extremely farsighted, and you approach where your reserve is, you can notice either blurry vision, or more often, headaches, tired eyes, and blurred vision. If you have a very young child, they might not be able to tell you because they do not understand that it isn't normal. What they're going to exhibit is just a really hard time using their vision all the time. In this case, the best thing you can do for these children, and really for all kids who haven't been to an eye doctor, is to take him in for a comprehensive eye examination regardless of whether a vision screening has detected any problems. First eye doctor visits are recommended after six months, but it becomes more critical when vision is used in the classroom. If you have a school-age child, you should take him or her to the eye doctor. Even with a comprehensive eye exam you will get a quick reading of the child's prescription. And with just that piece of information you can avoid, years of problems in school down the road.

Developmental Vision Exams

Although farsightedness can be detected during a comprehensive eye examination, we actually advise that as soon as your child begins reading, they should undergo a developmental eye examination. Developmental eye exams look beyond comprehensive eye exams to evaluate other aspects of the child's vision that affect their ability to see clearly in the classroom. Eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye tracking are skills that are developed and necessary to succeed in school.

What Does a Vision Screening Include

Vision screenings include assessing both nearsighted and farsighted as well as looking at many of the developed processes used in reading and the classroom. These include:

  • Visual Acuity
  • Extraocular Muscles
  • Saccades/Pursuits Pupils
  • Color vision
  • Stereo 
  • Misalignment/Cover Test
  • Near Point Convergence
  • Free Space Ranges
  • Phorias
  • Worth 4 Dot
  • Refractive error

Learn more vision screenings here.

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