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The Importance of Yearly Eye Screenings
By Dr. Rebecca Renshaw

Dr. Rebecca RenshawWhen a child is suspected of having a visual impairment, whether in infancy or as a teenager, it is important that the child's eye condition be examined by a medical and/or eye care professional. If a visual impairment is diagnosed, the child should be immediately referred to appropriate educational services. Developmental and educational services for children with visual impairments, deafblindness, and visual and multiple disabilities are most effective when the need is identified early and services are established quickly.

The Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children (WPSBC) provides a full menu of educational programs and supports for children of all ages with visual impairment. We recognize it is essential for eye care professionals, families, and service providers to work for the child to receive appropriate services. The following information helps facilitate communication and collaboration among these individuals.

Information to ask eye care professionals:

  • What is the child's eye condition?
  • What caused the eye problem?
  • Will my child's eye condition change?
  • What part of the eye or brain is involved?
  • How much can my child see?
  • Will eye glasses or contact lenses help?
  • Will low vision rehabilitation or vision enhancement devices help?
  • Will an eye report be made available in order to communicate the results with all team members?

Information to share with eye care professionals:

  • Eye condition, if known
  • Results of previous eye exams
  • Any other diagnosis
  • Current medications and allergies
  • Reason for referral
  • Neurological findings
  • Current services

A child diagnosed by an eye care professional as blind or visually impaired, or who you suspect may be blind or visually impaired, may qualify for specialized educational services at no cost. Children from birth to age 5 who have special needs due to development delays and disabilities are eligible to receive early intervention services. WPSBC offers free early intervention to Pennsylvania families. If the child is between the ages of 3 and 21 years old, contact the local school district. After a child has been diagnosed as blind or visually impaired, yearly vision screenings and evaluations need to be completed. With some eye conditions, vision can fluctuate or even deteriorate or the health of the eye can be affected. Yearly screenings and eye examinations will detect changes in a child's visual functioning and give them a better opportunity to develop educationally, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Dr. Rebecca Renshaw is Early Childhood Department Director at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. For more information, call (412) 621-0100, email renshawr@wpsbc.org or visit www.wpsbc.org.

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