Weighing in on Canadian school-based vision screening: A call for action

Katie P. Bennett, Wendy Maloney


Vision-screening programs are designed to detect common causes of visual impairment and increase the likelihood of early diagnosis and treatment. In the health authority Eastern Health – Newfoundland and Labrador, public health leaders raised a concern about the efficiency and effectiveness of the current non-routine, opportunistic vision screening protocol for school-aged children. An environmental scan of screening practices and programs across Canada was conducted, yielding a wide range of inconsistencies with respect to program type, target population, and screening tools. A significant gap in evidence-based research into universal vision-screening programs for the school-aged population (6+) was also noted. In light of these findings (both in practice and research), we recommend that researchers and public health practitioners across the country evaluate their current practice with respect to school-based vision screening and disseminate their findings through publication. We conclude that evaluation and research into current school-based screening programs (both opportunistic and universal) will provide the evidence needed to guide practice.


Vision screening; public health surveillance; school health services; strabismus; child health

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.108.6062