School-based vision screenings typically deal with a very large volume of students in a very short amount of time. Traditional wall charts have certainly stood the test of time as a tool to help assess visual acuity; however, given advancements in technology, wall charts and other manual methods of screening are no longer necessarily the best resource for the job. Think of it like this: a traditional handsaw has proven over centuries to be an effective way to cut wood and can even be incredibly accurate; however, it may not be the most appropriate or efficient tool to use when attempting to build a large house under deadlines carrying costs.
Traditional screenings, when performed in the right setting under the best circumstances are still quite effective. However, in today’s high-volume, fast-paced school setting there are other more reliable, consistent options available that take the screening from just a task to a relevant exercise with important outcomes as they relate to learning. The American Optometric Association estimates that as many as one-third of school children with potential vision problems are being missed in the traditional school based vision screening. Additionally, these screenings take considerably longer, using up valuable time that school nurses need to dedicate to other student needs and costing valuable instructional time.
It’s time to transition schools from traditional screenings to comprehensive children’s vision programming with a focus on ensuring that all children have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential by eliminating undetected and untreated vision problems as barriers to success in school and life. This also affords the school nurse additional time to address the ever-growing needs of the general school population, including an increase in clinic traffic and an increase in the complexity, severity, and frequency of special medical needs in the school environment.
Traditional screening typically places the focus on the act of screening.
A comprehensive children’s vision program, like VisioCheck, is multifaceted with very specific goals. Screening is just one component of an overall program to help ensure children’s healthy vision. A quality comprehensive children’s vision program should first and foremost be outcome-oriented and must also contain:
- Certified and credentialed technicians
- Consistent, reliable, efficient, and scientific screening process
- Parental education
- Clear, visual communication of results regardless of outcome
- Access to care
- Aggressive follow-up
- Data collection, reporting, and analysis
- Regular program monitoring and assessment
A comprehensive program is designed to change the way we view the importance of healthy vision and move people to action – ultimately getting under the care of an eye care provider helping to support a lifetime of good vision.
Healthy vision is critical to success in the classroom and therefore comprehensive programming is essential in helping parents better understand the need for regular eye exams.