This year, the in-person start of school for K-12 students in America is likely to include wearing face masks, social distancing, sanitizing and other COVID-inducing protocols. While it’s important for students to return to in-person instruction for their educational and social needs, it’s equally important for their health care needs because schools are where children get their basic health screens, including vision and hearing. For many schools, health screenings were suspended last year because of coronavirus transmission concerns.

Why Vision Screenings are Important

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Vision screening can identify children who may otherwise have no outward symptoms of subtle ocular abnormalities or blurred vision that, if untreated, may lead to permanent vision loss or impaired academic performance in school.”

Besides refractive errors, the most common childhood-related vision issues are amblyopia, strabismus, and detecting color blindness. Discovering these issues early in life increases the likelihood of effective treatment.

If issues are discovered during these routine in-school screenings, parents can then bring their child to an eye care provider for a comprehensive eye exam to find out the extent of the issue and what treatment options are available.

“Ideally, children should see their eye doctor once a year,” says Dr. Cheryl Roell, adding, “For kids with progressive myopia [nearsightedness], a visit every six months is needed.”

If your school system doesn’t offer vision screening this year because of COVID, and you notice your child rubbing their eyes, tilting their heads to look at things, and/or squinting, schedule an appointment to have them checked out.