A vision screening is not the same thing as an eye exam. It’s usually a much shorter test that may be performed by many different people including general practice doctors, pediatricians or school nurses. Usually, what this exam does is indicate whether a person needs further tests to rule out certain eye conditions, and whether it would be important for a person to get an eye exam. Most people can remember having a vision screening or two. They’re commonly done at places like schools or at motor vehicle departments when driver’s licenses are issued or renewed.
There can be specific guidelines for getting a vision screening that depend upon age. For children, the following ages can be appropriate to obtain a screening. These are sometime between the ages of 0-2, and once between age 3-5. More general recommendations are that children should have a vision screening every time they have a well child visit at the doctor’s, and the first one should occur at birth. Thereafter, when kids visit the doctor for the average check up they should have one done.
Schools may also perform these screenings every couple of years with primary school children. These are usually in accordance with recommendations from pediatric and ophthalmology or optometry organizations and may vary. More frequent screenings may be required in schools when children suffer from learning disabilities.
Adults between the ages of 19-40 should generally have a vision screening every one to two years. However, organizations like the American Optometric Association recommend that people not have a screening but instead have an eye exam every two years. Moreover, they suggest that people contact an eye doctor if they have any troubles with vision in between exams or screenings.
The same organization argues that vision screenings are not especially useful after people are in their 40s, and they really should have eye exams every two years from ages 40-61. After 61 recommendations include yearly eye exams. People who have not had any trouble with vision are still at risk for developing age related conditions and could benefit from both vision screenings and eye exams on a frequent basis. However, eye exams are superior to a vision screening in catching problems or diseases that can affect the eyes.
Vision screenings and eye exams may be needed more frequently if eye problems already exist. A person with glaucoma would probably skip screenings and might see an optometrist or ophthalmologist on a very regular basis. Usually, vision screening recommendations exist for those who have thus far not exhibited potential vision issues. Following an eye doctor’s guidelines on when to make appointments if a person has vision problems is safer than following general screening guidelines for the total population.