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Importance of Vision Screening for School-Aged Children

Posted on: April 30th, 2024 by Our Team

Researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School have found there is a significant need to identify children who are at risk of preventable loss of vision. The majority of the children in the study were part of socioeconomically vulnerable groups who do not have access to vision screening and follow up care. (1) It consisted of a cross-sectional study of schoolchildren who ranged in age from 6 to younger than 18 years. The study focused on three steps along the vision screening pathway:  receipt of screening, referral for eye examination and establishment of specialty care. The variables included age, sex, race, ethnicity, insurance type, household income, caregiver education level, household generation and primary household language.

Data was available for 30,173 children. Of those, 18,494 underwent vision screening within the past 2 years and 5,134 had been referred for an eye examination. Most of those referred, i.e., 4,823 reported establishing specialty care.

Major Factors Accounting for Lack of Vision Screening

Factors accounting for why these children were less likely to receive specialized care were attributable to ethnicity, income, and primary language. According to the researchers, children identifying as Hispanic, non-Hispanic, Asian, or non-Hispanic Black living in low-income households and with a non-English primary household language were less likely to receive screening, more likely to be referred for an eye examination but less likely to establish care with a specialist.  They also indicated that adolescents, children without health insurance and children with caregivers with less than high school education were less likely to receive screening and more likely to be referred for an eye exam.

1) JAMA Ophthalmol, January 2024

The need to identify children at greatest risk of preventable vision loss is essential.  We recommend scheduling an exam for your school-age children with our physicians.

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