Undiagnosed vision problems affect up to 15% of school children

Do your students suffer from undiagnosed vision problems?

When an estimated 80% of children’s learning is visual, the presence of undiagnosed vision problems in the classroom can be a major barrier to children’s progress and effect emotional well-being and social development.

From reading the whiteboard to text-books and computers, it is a huge part of the way we teach our students.

And yet, current estimates are that between 15 and 20% of children have poor vision in one or both eyes.

What does this mean for educators? Well, children with an undiagnosed vision problem typically avoid visually-based activities. This so-called avoidance behaviour can have major  impacts on a children’s learning;  and can even lead to misdiagnosed learning disability.

There are several indicators that a child may be suffering from an undiagnosed vision problem.

These can include more obvious signs such as squinting, tilting the head, covering one eye, sitting too close to devices or the TV, or rubbing the eyes excessively. But there are also more subtle indicators of poor eyesight, such as children falling behind in their education through to behavioural issues.

The difference screening can make

On the bus trip home from getting his first pair of glasses, Laura’s 11-year-old son exclaimed,
“Mummy, wow! I can read that sign! And this one!”

Laura will never forget this moment.
It signalled the start of a transformation – from a terror, both at home and in the classroom, to a model student. And it was all made possible in under 5 minutes.

How? By a school vision screening test.

Before the test, Laura’s son dealt with the struggles of poor vision every day.

Sat at the back of the classroom, teachers assumed that his antics were a behavioural issue – distracting other pupils, doodling and calling out, and a reluctance to join in with class activities.

Not to mention his reading level, which was significantly behind that of his classmates and he wasn’t making expected progress.

Now? The difference is night and day. Since his diagnosis, Laura’s son has access to the care he needs and can see the world clearly like his peers. The results were almost instantaneous.

All it took to catalyse this change was one concerned teacher, who took him aside for a few minutes at break, and sat him down for the screening process.

Laura’s son was like thousands of other children in the UK that currently have an undiagnosed vision problem.

The Screening for Schools programme is working to change this, by offering free vision screening to students across the country.

We believe that no child should miss out on an education; no class should suffer on behalf of one student; and no teacher should have to compromise their ability to tutor their students because of an easily preventable cause.



How do undiagnosed vision problems impact learning and behaviour?

For all the benefits it brings, the move to digital-focused classroom methods has exacerbated this unseen problem even further.

For example, blue light emitted by screens (such as computers, phones, TVs, and interactive whiteboards) are often linked to poor eyestight (especially myopia – short sightedness). Even before Covid, myopia in children was growing exponentially, often due to viewing screens. During Covid, use of laptops, tablets and Smartphones has grown exponentially, so the issue is now going to be more widespread than before.

Additionally, research shows that we need to exercise our eyes’ ability to view things at a distance, regularly. Otherwise, long-term “near” use – for example, reading a book, or browsing the internet – can contribute to shortsightedness.

Beyond affecting their consumption of information, a vision problem can impact your pupils’ behaviour. Frustration and distraction can lead to disruptive behaviour in the classroom and at home.

Behavioural symptoms can include:

  • Having difficulty concentrating during lessons.
  • Disruptive behaviour.
  • Complaining of headaches and eye pain.
  • Poor hand-eye coordination.
  • Delayed reading skills.

Although these behaviours do not confirm the presence of a vision problem, they are possible symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore. And a simple (free!) 3-minute test could rule-out a vision problem, helping you to access more tailored help for your student. So, what’s stopping you?

Learn more:


Identify Children’s Eyesight Problems and Symptoms

The Impact of Providing Vision Screening and Free Eyeglasses on Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Title I Elementary Schools in Florida

You Can’t Learn What You Can’t See: Here’s How Your State Screens For Vision Problems

‘A fifth of children have undiagnosed eye sight problems’, multiple reports

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