Author Interviews, CMAJ, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics / 20.07.2020
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mayu Nishimura Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences Director of Research Kindergarten Vision Screening Program MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Children's visual problems are difficult to identify without formal tests but most parents do not realize the importance of early eye checks nor are they aware that well-child visits to the family doctor/pediatrician are not enough. We are researchers at McMaster University (Hamilton, ON) and SickKids Hospital (Toronto, ON) who examined if it is possible to implement a vision screening program for kindergartners in diverse Ontario communities. Below are the main findings:
- We screened nearly 5000 kindergarten children in 15 communities and found that 11% of screened children had a visual problem, with 2/3 of the children being identified for the first time.
- There was great support for the program from the children, parents, teachers, and optometrists.
- Screening required 15-20 minutes per child and cost $10/child.
- When parents received a letter permitting them to opt out of screening, 4% did so. When parents were required to return a signed letter to opt in, 30% did not.
- Referral rates varied across schools but were higher for children in junior kindergarten (average 53%) than children in senior kindergarten (average 34%).
- Successful treatment depends on the parents’ awareness of the importance of eye exams and glasses, and access to optometrists and glasses without worrying about costs.