Vision and School-Based Health Centers

School-based care ensures that children have direct access to essential health services regardless of means of accessing care, racial or ethnic background, family status or situation, or socioeconomic circumstance. School-based health care allows for the elimination of common barriers to care, such as income, transportation or parental time away from work, promotes early intervention in the setting where children are learning and developing and at age-appropriate intervals.

School-based health services for children’s vision and eye health are appropriate access points for eye care since vision screening protocols for school-aged children (ages 6 years to 17 years) differ from protocols for children aged below 5 years. Additionally, intervals of vision screening between grades vary widely. Vision screenings for young children in a school-based setting—using recommended tools, protocols, and procedures—is a cost-effective method to identify children in need of evaluation and treatment by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

At the preschool level, children are required to have a vision screening completed upon entry into Head Start and Early Head Start programs while vision screening requirements and capacities for elementary, middle, and high school students vary across states and local school districts. Currently, 41 states require vision screening for school-age children and 26 states require vision screening for pre-school aged children.