Time and again, teachers are faced with a situation where a child has suddenly stopped performing well and grades have dropped. They suspect that the child may have some visual problem but how can they confirm.
By a 2 minute test using Snellen’s charts:
Order a Snellen’s chart online and mount it in the medical room/hall at the eye level
Ensure good illumination around the Snellen Chart
Make the child sit/stand at a distance of 6 metres
Ask the child to cover one eye and start reading from top to bottom
Let him read till the line he/she can read correctly
Then cover the other eye and repeat the same
If the child can read till 6/6(20/20) or 6/9(20/25) line, usually long distance vision is not a problem. If the child can read only till 6/12(6/30) level and above in any of the eyes, the parents should be requested to do a detailed eye checkup done.
For younger, uncooperative children, teachers can use the E chart wherein the child needs to identify the direction of E.
Is this method scientifically validated?
We have used this methodology in close to 50,000 students in and around Mumbai and identified undiagnosed/uncorrected visual problems in approximately 25% of students.
What to studies say…
In a study involving Delhi schools in 10,114 students, using “E” charts, teachers could be used effectively to screen students with poor visual acuity(Indian Journal of Community Medicine 2015)
In a study involving 30205 teachers, teachers were able to correctly identify in approximately 47.25% suspected children. The study carried high true negative rates and good true positive rates(Journal of Clinical Diagnostics and Research 2016)
This methodology is followed by schools around the world to identify children with visual problems early. This methodology is highly useful for countries like India where we don't routinely screen children for ophthalmic problems and have an acute shortage of trained medical personnel.
Vision is one of the imprint elements needed for learning. The school eye screening program(SES) is one of the key areas by emphasized by Sarva Shiksha Abhigyan emphasised and GOI.
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