Between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 New Zealand children have some form of vision problem which, if left untreated, could affect literacy and academic performance. Screening for vision problems in childhood is important because many children, and their parents, may not realise there is anything wrong. Most childhood vision problems aren’t obvious – the eyes look and feel perfectly normal – but left untreated vision problems can lead to permanent visual loss which may be impossible to correct in adulthood. Poor vision may limit future career choices such as joining the police force, becoming a pilot or even getting a commercial driver’s licence. Children’s vison screening helps with the diagnosis of:
- Refractive error – short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism that require correction with spectacles
- Amblyopia (‘lazy eye’) – which can lead to permanent vision loss because the eyes and brain are not working together
- Strabismus (‘turned eye’) – where the two eyes are misaligned.
For all of these conditions early intervention is the key to successful treatment.
The earlier a vision problem is detected, the greater the benefit to be derived from a treatment intervention. However, there are currently no reliable, objective and clinically usable tests available today, that allow for the measurement and detection of vision...
‘The Auckland Optotypes’ displayed on a tablet computer work well to identify children with vision loss
In NZ we have an excellent ‘before school’ screening program. Screening includes a test of the finest detail a child can see (visual acuity). Ideally, the test would be able to separate children with good vision from those who should see an eye doctor. We compared a...