back to school vision testing - Smart Vision Labs

A Successful School Year Begins with a Proper Vision Screening

For both parents and children, back-to-school season can be a bittersweet time of the year. Those peaceful end of July/August evenings blissfully leads you into the start of a brand new school year. But unfortunately, before you know it the first day of school is suddenly this upcoming Monday. How did that happen? You’ve been sitting around watching the news on Sunday evenings only to be interrupted every 15 minutes by a Staples or Target advert reminding you to get your back-to-school shopping done while the sales still last. And on top of that you’ve been receiving bi-weekly letters from your children’s schools reminding you to get them to the doctor’s office for their yearly physicals, dental checkups, and – most importantly, of course – their vision exams, so nothing will stand in the way of their learning. But did you actually remember to do any of that yet? Well, if you’re anything like my parents were, chances are you didn’t and the last weekday before the start of the school year is a chaos-ridden extravaganza, consisting of having just about every back-to-school errand known to mankind to do in just that one day. But what if I were to tell you that you could enjoy the end of your summer, and still get at least one of those tasks – obviously the most important one – checked off your to-do list? (Hint: it’s the vision exam – big surprise there).

With the Smart Vision Exam, anyone from the ages of 12 to 65 can get their vision tested in as little as 5 minutes. With no appointment necessary, that maximum 10-minute trip to a Smart Vision Exam site will not cut into any of the time reserved for impatiently waiting for your daughter to make the life-or-death decision over which set of highlighters to buy at Staples. Super important stuff. So with that quick and convenient trip for a vision screening, you will then receive an updated prescription in as little as 24 hours. Might as well even get one for yourself while you’re at it.

Many schools offer in-school vision screenings at the start of the year, the ones I attended included. But often times, the person administering the exam – typically the school nurse – is not a trained professional. The margin of error on an improper vision exam consisting of just reading a snellen chart is remarkably high. This type of in-school screening is in no way a sufficient alternative for a proper vision exam, as in most cases, the person administering the test is not well-equipped to detect the patient’s refractive error. Full disclosure: I went to public school in the early 2000s and perhaps this is just commentary on the fact that my school nurse was one of my classmate’s unqualified grandmothers who had a little too much free-time to offer up. Regardless, I passed the in-school screenings with flying colors. It wasn’t until I received a proper vision exam that I realized I had been walking around for years with a -1.50 error in both eyes. Thanks, Nurse Janet.

in school vision testing - Smart Vision Labs
At developing ages where eyesight is likely to change frequently, getting your vision checked is especially crucial. With the help of Dr. Mark Rosenfield and the SUNY College of Optometry, we conducted a clinical study to test our SVOne autorefractor in its ability to measure refractive error in a pediatric population. The results concluded that the device is more than capable of doing so, and might even be a better option for pediatric patients. The American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other ophthalmological organizations, recommend a handheld autorefractor for measuring such error as, “it is quick, requires minimal cooperation from the child and is especially useful in the preverbal, preliterate, or developmentally delayed child.” The clinical study also reiterates that given that most in-school screenings are performed by school nurses and/or volunteers untrained to perform retinoscopy, handheld autorefraction can be a very valuable and important asset to ensure proper exam results. You don’t say.

Aside from the benefits of accurate vision-screening results, the Smart Vision Exam is perfectly suited for the reluctant-to-go-to-the-doctor’s-office type of child. Another full disclosure: I was that child. Upon my first trip to the optometrist for a proper vision-screening and eye exam, the dilating eye drops, the puff of air test for eye pressure, and even just the overall extremity of the machines in the optometrist’s office gave me some substantial anxiety. And, as is the case for many healthy children, I had no signs pointing towards eye disease and left the office – with remarkably dilated pupils, I might add – only having needed a pair of glasses.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology claims that in the young adult, the rate of development for significant eye disease is very low until the age of 40, at which it then begins to steadily increase. Additionally, they recommend only one comprehensive medical eye exam at some point before reaching the age of 40. A routine comprehensive exam under that age unnecessarily escalates the cost of eye care, when a simple vision screening will more than suffice. So if stuck with an “I refuse to go the doctor” type of child, consider just simply visiting an optical store carrying the Smart Vision Exam, where they will be tested by a device that looks like a glorified iPhone, be in and out in about 5-10 minutes, and you’ll be free of that obligation for a guilt-ridden trip to the ice cream parlor after a doctor’s appointment. Not to mention it’s substantially cheaper than a comprehensive eye exam. Seems like a rather obvious decision.

Before you know it, summer is going to be over, school will resume, and morning commutes to work are going to hampered by yellow school buses’ and their impressive ability to always drive well below the speed limit. Back-to-school errands are already stressful and time-consuming enough. Let the Smart Vision Exam facilitate at least just one of those. Amidst that back-to-school craze, don’t brush aside the importance of vision testing. With our exam, you’ll have plenty of time left to enjoy your last summer days. And if you’re lucky, you might even save yourself some more time for that coveted errand of school-supply shopping.

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Issy Bonebrake is a born-again New Yorker living down in the Village. She considers herself to be a self-proclaimed, cautiously optimistic futurist. As a classic rock aficionado, she enjoys binge watching rockumentaries from the coziness of her less than 500 square footage apartment. Issy was 8 years old when she realized the remarkable incompetence of in-school vision screenings.

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Case Study: The Importance of School Vision Screenings

In the fall of 2015, Dr. Huy Tran and Maya Major of Smart Vision Labs screened 316 students over two days at Tuckahoe Commons Schools in Southampton, Long Island. The students participating in the school vision screening (most who had not gone to the eye doctor in the past year) ranged from ages 4 to 13, grades Pre-K to 8th. The first day was a vision screening of all students in the school, and students who saw under 20/30 for visual acuity were brought back the second day for vision exams with Dr. Tran.

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