Is your student’s vision ready for the classroom?
Research on the link between vision and learning has repeatedly shown that vision problems can hold a child back from their full learning potential. It seems obvious, right? If vision problems are getting in the way of seeing the board, reading a book, or developing good hand-eye coordination, it’s a lot harder to learn!
That’s why vision screenings—and, when needed, comprehensive eye exams—are so important for your student.
So what are the differences between a vision screening and comprehensive eye exam? In general, screenings identify undetected vision problems, while exams help diagnose vision problems. Let’s explain the differences in a little more depth.
Difference 1: Screenings are short but exams are long.
Screenings are faster than an exam, making them more efficient and cost-effective. Comprehensive eye exams take between 30 and 60 minutes. Screenings allow large populations to be evaluated in a time efficient way.
Difference 2: Screenings can tell you there’s a problem with your vision, but exams can tell you what the problem is.
Like we mentioned before, screenings are designed to simply indicate the existence of a problem with your vision. To get a diagnosis and treatment, you need to see an eye specialist for a comprehensive exam.
Difference 3: Exams are done by eye specialists.
In a school or health center, screenings may be performed by a school nurse or other trained personnel. On the other hand, comprehensive eye exams are only performed by an eye specialist: an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.
Difference 4: Screenings are limited, but exams are comprehensive.
Screenings generally only measure one part of visual function, like central vision testing or side (peripheral) vision testing.
Exams dive into multiple aspects of eye health and visual function, often including:
- Your child’s health & medication history
- Your child’s vision history and family vision history
- An evaluation of your child’s eye health
- Refraction or acuity testing (“Number one or number two?”)
Difference 5: Screenings may be followed up with an exam, while exams may be followed up with treatment.
After a screening, your child may be referred for a comprehensive eye exam with an eye specialist if the results of the screening are abnormal. After a comprehensive eye exam, treatment of a visual problem may be recommended. The most common vision problems in children are refractive errors, like near- or far-sightedness (myopia or hyperopia). Glasses and contacts are usually needed in these cases.