This study compares different vision screening batteries and documents the failure rates of different vision tests in children who receive periodic vision screenings.
Vision screenings were conducted on 1,992 preschool through fifth grade children attending schools in lower socioeconomic areas in New York City. The screening battery incorporated visual acuity, retinoscopy, cover test, stereopsis, near point of convergence, ocular motility, accommodation, color vision, and ocular health.
Slightly less than one third (30%) of the children screened failed the State University of New York (SUNY) battery and were referred for a comprehensive examination, of which 249 (41%) children actually passed distance visual acuities. The referral rate for distance visual acuity alone was 19%. The referral rate for the Modified Clinical Technique (MCT) was 22%. A greater percentage (33%) of the children in grades kindergarten through fifth were referred compared with the preschoolers (20%). Only a small percentage (8%) of the children wore corrective lenses at the time of testing. There was a significant increase in the prevalence of binocular vision problems found in children from grades kindergarten through 5.
Poor visual acuity and binocular vision problems exist in schoolchildren despite ongoing vision screenings. The results provide evidence for the necessity of periodic rescreening starting in kindergarten and the importance of screening for hyperopia and binocular vision problems in addition to distance visual acuities.