Photoscreening can help identify children who need vision correction.
By Matthew Doerr, MD
Children are often referred to my pediatric ophthalmology practice due to a failed photoscreening. Frequently, the device-based evaluation was performed at school or a pediatrician’s office. These programs use a photoscreener like the Plusoptix Vision Screener. I am an advocate for the use of these systems. Photoscreening can identify children who need glasses but are too young to read an eye chart. The devices are also useful for children who may be otherwise uncooperative.
Photoscreening flags children with potential visual issues, prompting a referral for a full eye examination. I am often surprised by the accuracy of these devices, especially when compared to older versions. I estimate that about 50% of the children referred to me from a failed vision screening will end up in glasses. Many others are identified to have more serious eye conditions that otherwise would have been missed. Children who fail the screening but do not end up in glasses are on my radar to monitor closely. These kids may need glasses or develop vision issues later. Identifying potential vision concerns also allows me to speak with parents. We can also discuss signs of new problems that may occur.
VISION AND LEARNING DISORDERS
Identifying and treating vision disorders in children early can also help prevent misdiagnoses. I see many kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum issues, and other learning concerns. Any child with these conditions must have a complete eye examination. Vision issues can work against prescribed treatment and therapy. Vision problems can cause children to be misdiagnosed altogether. Once vision is corrected, children often behave and perform better in school. A thorough eye exam can sometimes lead to the diagnosis of an underlying genetic or systemic condition. These conditions have serious long-term consequences. Identifying them helps facilitate overall health care.
Some early childhood vision issues do improve with age; however, most do not. Beyond 6 months of age, any noticeable misalignment problem will likely not self-correct. Finding concerns early allows for timely treatment that can prevent serious issues as the child grows. Plusoptix Vision Screening devices provide reliable measurement values for eye alignment and media opacity concerns beyond just glasses. Catching and managing these conditions is essential to visual development. The Plusoptix system can bring problems to the attention of healthcare providers earlier.
Here in Virginia, MEDARVA Healthcare has worked for more than 7 years to provide free early childhood screenings. Due in part to referrals from this program, I see the value of device-based vision screening in my practice daily. Good vision is the foundation of children’s ability to learn and succeed, allowing them to reach their full potential. A thorough vision and eye exam is an essential part of a child’s overall health and development.
Signs that may indicate a child has a vision or hearing problem include:
Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
Avoiding reading and other close activities
Covering one eye
Holding reading materials close to the face
An eye turning in or out
Losing place when reading
Difficulty remembering what he or she read
Attempt to do work, but with a lower level of comprehension
Experience discomfort and fatigue
Has a short attention span
Early, routine childhood screening reduces the risk of amblyopia by more than 50%. Therefore, take your child to a preventive vision screening to ensure best conditions for it’s further development. For more information about preventive vision screening, click visionscreening.org
Do you want to read more about the Plusoptix Vision Screener? Click here for the Vision Screener product information.
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