Clear and healthy vision is essential to your child’s success both inside and outside of school. Despite this, pediatric vision problems, which are increasingly prevalent, often go untreated since many children lack access to regular preventive vision screenings and services.
In-school screenings are key to monitoring your child’s eye health and granting them accessible and affordable care when needed.
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The mission of the Vision Program is to promote good eye care by providing vision screenings, eye examinations, and eyeglasses for children in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and for PreK through 12th grade students in designated Community Schools and Students in Temporary Housing (STH). Through screenings and examinations, the program hopes to identify students at risk for amblyopia and/or students with myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia, fusion, and color deficiency.
Please be aware that in-school vision screenings should not replace comprehensive eye examinations performed by medical professionals. Screenings can identify those at possible risk but cannot diagnose or treat any disorders.
This program is run by the Office of School Health (OSH), which is a joint bureau of New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and Department of Education (DOE).
DOHMH teams will conduct screening services for PreK students enrolled in DOE-funded community-based organizations. Screening involves the use of non-invasive autorefractors to evaluate sphere, cylinder, axis, pupil, distance, and gaze asymmetry measurements. This screening method is aimed to detect students who are at risk for amblyopia. When amblyopia is detected and treated during early childhood, it is easily manageable with eyeglasses and eye patches. However, if left untreated, it may cause severe eye conditions or permanent vision loss later in life.
Kindergarten to 1st Grade Program
DOHMH teams will conduct screening services for PreK, K and 1st grade students in public and non-public NYC schools. An autorefractor is used to screen PreK students (see Pre-Kindergarten Program above for more information). Screening for K and 1st grade students involves the use of Tumbling E eye charts to measure distance vision and hyperopia, the Rosenbaum chart to measure near vision, the Ishihara Book to test color vision, and the Lang Stereo Test II to measure fusion. Students who fail any of these screenings will be offered non-dilated eye examinations and optometric services by on-site optometrists, when one is available. Depending on examination results, students will be provided eyeglasses at no cost or sent home with referrals for follow-up care. These screenings are aimed to detect students who are at risk for amblyopia. When amblyopia is detected and treated during early childhood, it is easily manageable with eyeglasses and eye patches. However, if left untreated, it may cause severe eye conditions or permanent vision loss later in life.
Community Schools and Students in Temporary Housing Program
Contracted vendors conduct screening services for all students in PreK through 12th grade in Community Schools and schools with a higher percentage of students in temporary housing (STH). Students who fail vision screenings will be offered non-dilated eye examinations and same-day optometric services by on-site optometrists. In younger grades, the focus of the examinations is to detect amblyopia; in higher grades, the focus is to detect and treat undiagnosed visual acuity issues.
District 75 Summer Initiative
DOHMH teams will conduct screenings and provide non-dilated eye examinations and optometric services, when an optometrist is available, to students enrolled in NYC Special Education programs over the summer.
DOHMH’s Follow-Up Unit will directly contact the parents/guardians of students whose vision screening results identify them as being at high risk for vision issues. High risk results include vision screening results of 20/70 or worse or results that suggest risk factors for amblyopia. Parents/guardians will be contacted via telephone, mail, and/or email to inform them of vision screening results, to explain the use of the E12S form, and to urge parents to take their child to the eye doctor.
Important Forms and Letters
Passive Consent Form
When an optometrist will be on-site to provide vision exams, families are able to fill out and submit this form to their child’s school if they would prefer to excuse their child from optometric services offered at school.
Vision Referral Form (E12S): Students will receive a copy of this form in school if they failed their screening and no optometrist was on-site, or if the on-site optometrist recommends the student receive additional eyecare in the community. This form is completed by a community optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Vision Resource List: Please review this list of health care facilities that offer vision screenings.
For questions related to vision screening policies and procedures please reach out to NYCDOHMHVision@health.nyc.gov or call 855-771-3937.
Please contact your child’s school/principal for school-specific information.