Background: Vision screening in preschool and school age children remains a valuable method of identifying potentially treatable visual abnormalities, as well as refractive errors in the school age population. A major difficulty in conducting these types of programs is the inconsistent follow-up encountered frequently in children identified by the screening program. The Baltimore Vision Screening Project was designed to address the issue of access to care for a group of inner city elementary school students by providing on-site evaluation and treatment.
Methods: A standard vision-screening protocol was administered to prekindergarten and kindergarten students attending an inner city elementary school and access to care provided at the school. Children identified by the screening were examined at the school, and appropriate treatment was prescribed. The second phase of the study details a return to the school 1 year after the initial screening. The purpose of this was to reassess the level of visual morbidity in this population and to evaluate the effects of providing treatment in the previous year.
Results: Two hundred eighty-five children were screened during the 1994-1995 school year. Visual morbidity statistics from the follow-up year were similar to those of the previous screening: 5.3% diagnosed with amblyopia, 3.2% with strabismus, and 7.4% with refractive errors. Forty of the 68 children identified, examined, and treated in the previous year still were attending the school during the follow-up investigation. Compliance with recommended treatment was 30% in this group, with only 20% of the students passing the vision screening the following year.
Conclusions: The follow-up screening confirmed the presence of significant visual morbidity in this group of preschool and kindergarten students. Nearly two thirds of the students had not complied with the recommended treatment or spectacle wear or both, despite providing immediate access to this care through the vision-screening program.