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Children's Vision Screening

Policy Date: 1/1/1982
Policy Number: 8203

The American Public Health Association,
Recognizing that preventive child health programs are an important component in the delivery of health care and that primary preventive vision health services are cost-effective to the nation's populations;1 and
Noting that vision plays an important role in the child's education process and that uncorrected visual problems can have a significant impact on a child's educational and developmental progress;2 and
Knowing that vision problems, among the most prevalent chronic health problems in the population, affect a substantial number of school age children ranging from 18 per cent of children aged 5-7 years to 31 per cent of children aged 13-15 years;3-5 and
Realizing that children are at high risk of having undetected vision problems,6 since most problems occur without pain and are often unknown to parents, children, and teachers; and
Realizing that present vision screening programs which are conducted by local, state, and volunteer agencies and other health personnel have often led to fragmentation and inefficiency as well as poor coordination and follow-up in the provision of these services;7 therefore
1. Encourages all state and territorial legislators to mandate preschool vision screening with follow-up programs and/or vision examinations for all children prior to entry into school;
2. Supports regular periodic vision screenings and follow-up (as part of comprehensive health screening) for all children after entry into school;
3. Encourages state health departments to coordinate state vision screening and follow-up programs;
4. Encourages state and local professional associations whose members provide vision services actively to participate in implemention of vision screening and follow-up programs; and
5. Encourages further research to develop more cost-effective methods of vision screening.
1. APHA Resolution 7901: Vision Care in a National Health Program. APHA Public Policy Statements, 1948 to present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
2. Davis M, Whitener J: The Role of Vision in the Multidisciplinary Approach to Children with Learning Disabilities, Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1982.
3. Health Services Research Institute: Review of Shows for Treatment: Nine State Survey of EPSDT. San Antonio, Texas: HSRI, 1977.
4. Hamilton JE: Vision anomalies of school children. Am J Optom Physiol Opt 1974; 51(7):484-486.
5. National Society to Prevent Blindness: Vision Problems in the US: Facts and Figures. New York: NSPB, 1980.
6. Tibbenham AD, et al: Vision screening in children tested at 7, 11, and 16 years. Brit Med J 1978; 1(6123):1312-1314.
7. Leske M, Rosenthal J, Soroka M: Vision screening requirements under 52 early and periodic screening diagnosis and treatment programs. Public Health Rep 1981; 96(5):404-409.