What Is The Difference Between A Vision Screening And A Kid's Eye Exam?

What Is The Difference Between A Vision Screening And A Kid's Eye Exam?

August is Children’s Eye Health And Safety Month, a good opportunity to ensure parents are learning about children’s vision and overall eye health and how it is tested. Children’s eye care is an important part of children’s health and their success in education. As the importance of proper eyesight for learning becomes more widely understood, some schools have started offering vision screening for students. Your child’s school may conduct vision screening for your child, particularly when they are young, as a way to help identify if your child has a visual impairment. It is important to know that these vision screenings are not kid’s eye exams and they do not offer the same benefits as the children’s eye care offered by a trained optometrist. Here are the differences between vision screening and kid’s eye exams and why this difference matters.

Vision Screening Vs. A Kid’s Eye Exam

Vision Screening
Another term for vision screening is a sight test. These screenings act as a preliminary test to determine if a child needs to visit the optometrist to receive a prescription for a refractive error. Vision screening can be administered by non-optometrists, such as school nurses. Vision screeners or vision test administrators will likely use a Snellen eye chart, where there are lines of letters that become increasingly smaller. They can also use other vision tests and digital instruments to search for signs and symptoms of vision problems. A vision screener can tell you if your child’s eyesight seems ok or they can suggest the child go for a kid’s eye exam at the optometrist, but they cannot diagnose your child with a vision disorder, nor can they write a prescription for corrective lenses.

Vision screenings can be very beneficial for determining if vision is related to aspects in school that your child struggles with. It is very common for children with visual impairments to be incorrectly assumed to have learning disabilities, cognitive delays, or even physical impediments that may be due to poor vision. An inability to see the board at the front of the classroom or to read the worksheets on their desk may be misinterpreted by educators if they don’t know the child has vision issues. Depth perception can also be affected by visual impairments. Vision screening helps to further understand the root of learning difficulties that some children face.

Children’s Eye Exams
Unlike vision screenings, kid’s eye exams are conducted by trained optometrists. A kid’s eye exam will also test for visual acuity and may even use some of the same tests that are administered during a vision screening, but kid’s eye exams are more in-depth. Whereas a vision screening will use charts to tell if a child has visual impairments in general, an optometrist will use a device called a phoropter to determine a specific prescription and will also perform tests to measure exactly where light focuses within the eye and how light needs to be bent for ideal vision. Pediatric optometrists measure your child’s exact prescription so that they can have an accurate pair of corrective lenses created to suit their vision needs. 

A kid's eye exam does more than measure vision; it is critical for children’s eye health. The pediatric optometrist will examine your child’s eyes to look for any signs of the development of eye conditions. Using advanced equipment such as retinal imaging machines, your pediatric optometrist will look at the structures within the eye and search for any irregularities. This helps protect children’s eye health by identifying the development of any eye conditions so that they can be treated early before the eye sustains any serious or permanent damage. Without a kid’s eye exam, children’s eye care is incomplete and they can develop serious eye conditions without anyone realizing it. To learn more about children’s vision, read 5 Important Facts About Children’s Vision.

Children’s Eye Care At Blink Optometry In Calgary

While vision screenings can be helpful tools to identify previously undetected vision problems, they are no replacement for a kid's eye exam with a trained pediatric optometrist. Eye exams will protect children’s eye health through the early detection and treatment of any eye conditions. At Blink Eyewear, our Calgary pediatric optometrists will get your child the prescription they need while also examining the physical health of their eye. With three convenient locations in Crowfoot in NW Calgary, West Springs in SW Calgary, and Creekside in NW Calgary, Blink Eyewear can offer you great optometry services throughout the city. To book an appointment with Blink Eyewear, call 1-403-516-2292 or fill out the online contact form.


The optometry office might seem like a strange and scary place to a child, but kids’ eye exams aren’t painful so there shouldn’t be any negative associations. This leaves lots of room for positive associations to be implemented! Try these tips to help make your child’s trip to the optometrist a good experience.

Children are covered by Alberta Health Services until the age of 18, so you don’t have to pay for your kid’s eye exam.

You should schedule your child’s first eye exam when they’re 6 months old, as well as exams when they are 3 years old and 5 years old. After this, they should receive an eye exam every year until they are 18.

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Blink Eyewear boasts the largest collection of eyewear in Calgary, but our 3 locations are also home to the region’s finest optometrists. Just as you will not find a better store to shop for your eyewear, you will not find a better vision clinic to do your eye exam or treat your eye condition. 

Go ahead and Blink; what you see is really what you get. Call one of our store numbers or fill out the form below to book an appointment.

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