Background: Children attending three New York City public schools were screened in 1998-1999. These three schools were previously screened in 1996-1997. This allowed comparison of referral rates between the two years. In addition, we were able to follow individual children who attended the schools between these two years. Finally, using results of the citywide achievement test scores, we were able to correlate the specific vision screening tests with academic performance.
Methods: Results from each of the years were analyzed to determine if any trend existed in referral frequency and screening procedures failed. Referral criteria were failure on one or more of the screening battery tests. In addition, the children's vision screening performance was compared with their reading achievement test scores. Vision screening results of children in both the top 25% and bottom 25% of the class were evaluated and academic improvement based on optometric intervention was also monitored.
Results: Twenty-nine percent (29%) of children screened in 1996-1997 were referred. This matched the 25% referral rate found in 1998-1999. The screenings in 1998-1999 yielded a higher referral rate (35%) in functional vision tests as opposed to visual acuity screening procedures than the screening in 1996-1997 (30%). The King Devick Eye Movement Test and the hyperopia assessment screening showed significant correlation with citywide achievement test scores. Both these tests were significant for predicting those students in the lower 25% of the class for all grades in both years of the screenings.
Conclusions: Early detection and remediation increased the potential for more effective learning in a small sample size of 25 children. Further studies involving larger sample sizes are indicated.