Free child vision checks

CLARION The Venango County Association for the Blind (VCAB) is offering to provide simple vision screenings for children at local schools (Clarion, Forest or Venango Counties) at no cost.

Parents may have noticed symptoms of early vision problems in their children during their remote learning time, including squinting, difficulty doing close-up work, closing, or covering one eye and complaints of blurry objects or watering eyes.

If so, it is time to get a five-minute vision screening that could identify early vision problems and indicate whether a child needs to be examined by an eye doctor.

VCAB's trained staff uses a no-contact, non-invasive vision screening device that will take an image of the eyes to measure refractive error and ocular misalignments. It is as easy as having a photo taken with a digital camera.

During a typical academic year, VCAB screeners visit the public and private preschools and kindergarten registration events to do the quick, easy screenings. But, because of the school shutdowns, many children missed their screenings in 2020.

That has school nurses and vision professionals worried.

Vision disorders are widespread among the pediatric population with one in 20 children at risk for permanent vision loss due to vision disorders. Fortunately, with early treatment, 80 percent of vision disorders can be prevented or cured.

Early vision screenings can help identify children who have or are at risk of developing vision disorders such as amblyopia, strabismus, and various refractive errors. Children who are identified as at-risk are referred to an eye care professional if they fail a vision screening test.

Approximately 80 percent of all learning happens visually. Uncorrected vision disorders may result in impaired development, behavior problems, interference with early literacy and learning, even permanent vision loss.

Parents can talk to their child's school nurse, principal, or teacher to request that a prevention of blindness specialist from VCAB visit their school for a no-contact, non-invasive screening by calling VCAB at (814) 676-1876.

VCAB can also schedule appointments for children who are home-schooled. To qualify, children must live in Clarion, Forest, or Venango Counties. Remember, there is no charge for this important screening.