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Noosa Children's Vision Screening Program

Noosa Optical coordinates a free, community Children’s Vision Screening (CVS) Program, run through participating kindergarten and primary schools in the Noosa area.  The program is based upon peer reviewed standards and is a free vision screening program for children in kindergarten, prep and junior school age groups. The program aims to identify amblyopia and refractive errors in young children using a specially designed test for children.

It is important for us to look after our children's vision. We're well qualified to help and support our local community.

If you would like to participate in the program, please contact your school or give us a call on 5447-3711.

Background

Approximately one in five Australian children suffers from an undetected vision problem, or requires ongoing assessment[1].

Medicare statistics show an alarming decline in the number of Children’s Vision Assessments per capita in the 0-4 year old group over the past 3 years and more recently this trend appears to extending into the 5-14 year age group[2]. Alignment of the eyes during the early years of life is considered critical for development of binocular vision[3]. Amblyopia is a condition that occurs when there is altered visual input or abnormal binoular interaction resulting in diminished vision in one or both eyes[4]. Strabismus is the most common cause of amblyopia and is the term used to describe any anomaly of ocular alignment. It can occur in one or both eyes and in any direction[5].

Amblyopia is unique to children but is preventable if the child receives adequate treatment in childhood. The prevalence of amblyopia is approximately 1% - 4% of preschool children[2]. The Lea SymbolsChart has been shown to have a high sensitivity for amblyopia[6].

Vision development is thought to be complete by the time the child is eight years of age, however some aspects of visual development will already be complete by the time the child reaches school age[7].

The National children’s vision screening project[8] conducted in 2008, recommended that a vision screen should be conducted for all children at around 4 years of age, with an allowable range from 3.5 to 5 years. In the community health setting, this is currently achieved by using the 15 line (3 metre) Lea Symbols Chart. The Lea Symbols Chart distance visual acuity test has been shown to be successfully used in 76% of children 3 years and over and more than 90% of children 4 years and over[4]. 

Optometry Australia recommends that children have a full eye examination with an optometrist before starting school and regularly as they progress through primary and secondary school[9]. 

It is important that all children receive a vision screen prior to school entry to:

1. Identify eye and vision problems that may cause permanent vision loss;

2. Identify eye and vision problems that can affect a child’s learning;

3. Maximise treatment outcomes by identifying and treating childhood vision problems early, during the critical visual development period;

4. Prevent avoidable vision loss and/or blindness later in life.

While eye health surveillance by family members and teachers can monitor a child for outward signs of eye or vision problems, the two most common childhood vision problems, amblyopia and refractive error, cannot be detected by family history, vision surveillance or observing a child’s behaviour or appearance. These common childhood vision problems can only be detected if a monocularvisual acuity screen is conducted by a trained vision screener or qualified eye health professional.


References:

[1] Optometry Australia Children’s Vision Resources; http://www.optometry.org.au/

[2] http://medicarestatistics.humanservices.gov.au

[3] Duckman R H. Visual Development, Diagnosis, and Treatment of the Pediatric Patient. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. Philadelphia, USA, 2006: 279-280.

[4] Granet D. Amblyopia and Strabismus. Pediatric Annals. 2011 Feb 40 ;(2): 89-94.

[5] Coats  D  K,  Paysse,  E  A.  Evaluation  and  management  of  strabismus  in children. In: UpToDate, Basow, DS (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2012.

[6] Becker R, Hubsch MH, Graf MH, Kaufmann H. Examination of young children with Lea symbols. British Journal of Ophthalmology 2002; 86: 513-516.

[7] NSW   Government.  Statewide  Eyesight  Preschooler  Screening  (StEPS) Program. Ministry of Health, NSW. Jan 2012. p. 1.

[8] Commonwealth of Australia. National children’s vision screening project. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Oct 2008.[9] http://www.optometry.org.au