Three Steps to Establishing a Vision Screening Program

Kay Nottingham, Ph.DKay Nottingham, Ph.D

Effective vision screening is lacking in some early childhood programs, according to P. Kay Nottingham Chaplin, Ed.D., former director of the Vision Initiative for Children, a preschool vision screening training program at West Virginia University. Dr. Chaplin has trained, equipped, and supported individuals to screen the vision of preschoolers for more than eight years.

"Programs interested in establishing or modifying vision screening programs should consider the following steps," noted Dr. Chaplin.

  1. Use AAP-recommended tests beginning at age 3.

  2. Programs should follow vision screening guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), such as Lea Symbols or HOTV letters for children ages 3-5 years of age. For children younger than 3, programs could consider Lea Grating Paddles, the SureSight Vision Screener, or refer children to an eye care professional.

  3. Train the screener. Vision screening requires appropriate training. Insufficient training may lead to modifying screening protocols, thus reducing the detection of amblyopia (lazy eye). Amblyopia can lead to permanent impairment if not detected and treated early- preferably before age 5.

  4. Follow up with parents. Ensure that parents receive vision screening results. Share with parents AAP's guidelines for making appointments with eye care professionals for follow-up, confirmatory eye exams when their children fail vision screening.

By P. Kay Nottingham Chaplin, Ed.D., Vision Screening Consultant for School Health Corporation; Director - Early Vision Screening Initiatives for The Good-Lite Company

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