Are School Vision Screenings Reliable?

Amplify Eyecare of Greater Long Beach

Just How Accurate Are School Vision Screenings?

Children spend more time in school than with their parents or at home.  Likewise, parents spend much of their time working, whether they work from home or outside.  Making sure our kids get their annual eye exams, dental checkups, and assorted other follow up appointments takes time that many people simply don’t have. Having vision screening at your child's school can potentially provide important information about their children’s eyesight. However, the question of their reliability deserves to be looked at.

The short answer is that these screenings are not particularly accurate. Or, perhaps more accurately, they are not comprehensive. These screenings, which are generally just a simple eye test with a vision chart, cannot substitute for the sort of comprehensive exam a child would receive at an eye doctor, who will have access to devices that’ll more accurately examine both the child’s vision and check for overall eye health. 

These screenings are often performed by people who are not eye care professionals, so there may also be issues with the way the test is carried out and the results calculated. Additionally, the tests are not carried out in a properly controlled environment (in contrast to a doctor’s office), so other factors, such as the lighting and distractions, can influence the results and lead to incorrect conclusions.

They simply cannot detect many of the visual problems children may experience. These include near vision issues, eye tracking, focus, and the ability of the eyes to work together while reading from a book or computer screen--both things extremely important when it comes to schoolwork.

Vision screenings provide less than 4% of the information generated during a comprehensive eye exam and miss up to 75% of children with vision problems. (American Optometric Association)

Why This is a Problem

The main concern with in-school screenings is that parents will rely on them and not have them properly examined by an eye doctor, believing that passing this simple exam means they have perfect vision. This mistaken belief can lead to issues not being detected and treated, which in turn can lead to the problems getting worse over time before action is finally taken. If the problems continue and get worse, that can negatively impact their learning capabilities over time.

Is There Any Value to Vision Screenings?

While we have just established the limitations of in-school vision screenings, there can be some value to them. For example, if your child fails the screening, they likely have a serious vision issue and you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible. Perhaps because they view these screenings as a mere formality, many parents do not bother having their child get properly examined if they fail a screening. Subsequently, as much as 67 percent of children who fail vision screenings do not receive a proper examination or vision care from an eye doctor.

Dr. Ikeda cartoon

Rely on Professional Care

You wouldn't rely on an overly simple screening carried out by people who are not professionals in that specific field, for checking other aspects of your health. Your eyes--your children’s eyes, in this case--deserve the highest level of care.


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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