Vision disorders are a common problem among children in the United States. Based on an estimate, almost 25% of children in the school going age have vision problems. Despite the rise in medical care and living standards of people, most of the young children, even of pre-school age, are not getting appropriate eye care. Only an estimated 1/3rd of all kids have eye tests or vision screening before joining a school.
Another study conducted recently showed that 11.5% of teenagers face vision difficulties that go unchecked and are not treated at all. That is why, the society as whole should strive towards early detection and treatment of eye and vision disorders. This can become possible by spreading the knowledge about the crucial stages in the development of the human vision. The earlier the vision disordered is discovered and treated, the higher the chance of the child not facing any negative effects on his/her growth and development.
Eye tests and vision examinations such as visual screening, conducted in the school or even pre-school are not sufficient on their own, and they can never be substituted for professional and expert eye care. This is the concern of the American Optometric Association (AOA). Vision screening is a restricted procedure of reviewing some aspects of vision problem areas. However, only professional eye doctors can diagnose eye diseases and prescribe the correct medication and treatment. Even simpler procedures of recommending eye glasses and contact lens (like the 1 day acuvue moist) should be done by an experienced doctor. If this is done before the child enters school, there will a significant reduction in academic failure due to vision problems.
Negligence of taking timely eye tests (and not realizing their flaws) is the major cause of undetected eye problems in children. Many eye problems can be treated simply by using contact lens such as the 1 day acuvue moist, or spectacles. Several studies also point out the growing need of effective eye examinations for children. As mentioned before, vision screening in public and private schools is necessary, but it is not a one step solution to solving eye problems.
Such tests and programs are designed to detect the children who possibly have vision problem that can affect their learning development at school, along with affecting their physiological and perceptual processes. Screenings, however, are not designed to diagnose eye disease, and they do not direct a person towards treatment. Visual screening is just a first step to indentify whether a person needs future eye care or not.
Coupled with their ineffectiveness is the fact that only 33 states, according with the District of Columbia actually require public and private schools to conduct vision screening! Furthermore, it is also worthy of attention that vision screening programs are not uniform. Their range and abundance is not the same in all states.
Moving on, it is also noticed that people misunderstand the need for an all-out eye exam program with improved vision screenings. Enhancing the quality of vision screening programs is good, but is not the same as a comprehensive vision examination. The limitations of vision screenings are not in the knowledge of the masses. Awareness should be created in the public and it should be communicated that merely passing the eye examination does mean that the person does not have any eye problems.
A weak communication network is also a reason why children experience eye problems that are not treated on time. What this means is that there should be clear communication between the school nurses, doctors and the parents. As soon as any of these groups discover the slightest hint of eye disease in a child, immediate medical attention should be given.
Failure to do so can put a question mark on the credibility and quality of the vision screening attempts at the education institutions. Another problem is that only the visual acuity is considered the benchmark in a screening process. All parties involved, as well as well the society at large should know the immense costs of untreated vision problems, not only to the children’s eyesight, but also to their learning development at school.
Finally, it is also important to know that children who are handicapped physically or mentally have greater chance of developing visional abnormalities than their peers. Moreover, such children are not capable of completing vision screening and other eye tests in an appropriate way. This further demonstrates why many vision problems in children are not undetected and is left untreated.