2006 Vision Screening Procedures Announcement

A collaborative review by the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health and Human Services

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What is vision screening?

Vision screenings are brief, simple procedures used to identify potential eye health problems in infants and children. The screening can help determine which infants and children may need further diagnostic assessment, or an educational evaluation.

The screening process:

  • Provides an opportunity for early detection of vision problems that may impair a child’s ability to learn.
  • Identifies children who may be in need of further evaluation by a vision professional.
  • Provides an opportunity for children and their families to access a wide variety of services and early childhood programs for children identified to have vision problems; and
  • Promotes and supports parents and teachers understanding of the child’s health, visual abilities, and learning capacity.

What is NEW in vision screening in Minnesota? EFFECTIVE - Fall 2006

A state interagency task force, vision screening experts and key stakeholders met in December 2005 to review the proposed MDH 2006 Vision Screening Guidelines in order to assure the quality and effectiveness of, and provide a standard of practice for, the vision screening component of children, birth to age twenty years.

Partners in this process include the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health, and Human Services and representatives from the Sight & Hearing Association, Minnesota chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS), the American Optometric Association (AOA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP). In addition, there were representatives from the School Nurse Organization of Minnesota, Local public health agencies, Child & Teen Checkups, Head Start agencies and schools.

The 2006 Vision Screening Guidelines include new recommendations for screening children, ages newborn to three years old. This is important for programs such as the Minnesota Early Childhood Screening, Child & Teen Checkups (C&TC) and Head Start. Following are highlights of other significant changes to the 2006 Vision Screening Guidelines:

  • Modification of the targeted grade levels at which vision screening in schools should occur.
  • Decrease in the age for color vision screening from fourth grade to first grade students
  • Inclusion of optional stereopsis testing
  • Adoption of new vision acuity charts, instruments and corresponding age criteria
  • Discontinuation of the Worth 4 dot as an optional screening instrument
  • Inclusion of information about new vision screening technology in the 2006 MDH Vision Screening Manual
  • Inclusion of the two line difference as part of the ‘pass criteria’ on the Snellen and Sloan charts

Why is early identification important?

  • Early identification of vision problems in children is important to prevent later vision difficulties and to improve children’s learning
  • Last year in Minnesota, 2,966 possible vision problems were identified through the Early Childhood Screening program. This is an increase from the previous year in which 2,242 possible vision problems were identified in three to five year- old children.
  • The new 2006 MDH Vision Guidelines incorporate the most current research about children’s vision and are designed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of Minnesota’s screening programs for young children, school age children and adolescents.

Where can I find the list of recommended 2006 vision screening instruments?

The MDH will soon be launching a new website presenting the vision screening recommendations by the Minnesota Department of Health, endorsed and approved by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Education for the Early Childhood Screening, school age, Head Start and C&TC screenings provided in local school districts, public health agencies and clinics. This website will be available the first week of April, 2006.

The list of recommended vision screening instruments, where to purchase new charts, along with other helpful information about vision screening, including the use of new technology, and upcoming training sessions can be found at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fh/mch/hlth-vis/vision.html

How do I know which vision screening chart is best for my program?

There are many factors that affect the selection of a vision-screening chart. For this reason, a variety of charts for screening are listed in the “Question and Answer” page on the above mentioned website. Selection of an appropriate chart should be based on factors such as program requirements for vision screening, and the age, ethnic, and cultural background experiences of the children to be screened.


Please visit our website, listed above, to obtain additional information regarding upcoming vision screening. Upon request, this information can be made available in alternative formats such Braille and large print.