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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 108, Issue 4, pp 421–426 | Cite as

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

  • Katie P. Bennett
  • Wendy Maloney
Commentary

Abstract

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.

Key words

Vision screening public health surveillance school health services strabismus child health 

Mots Clés

Dépistage visuel surveillance de la santé publique services de santé scolaire strabisme santé de l’enfant 

Résumé

Les programmes de dépistage visuel visent à détecter les causes courantes de déficience visuelle et à accroître les probabilités de diagnostic précoce et de traitement. Les responsables de la santé publique de l’autorité sanitaire Eastern Health de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador ont exprimé des réserves quant à l’efficience et à l’efficacité de leur protocole actuel de dépistage visuel chez les enfants d’âge scolaire, qui est opportuniste et non systématique. Une analyse environnementale des pratiques et des programmes de dépistage a été menée à l’échelle du Canada; elle a mis au jour de nombreuses disparités en ce qui a trait aux types de programmes, à la population cible et aux outils de dépistage. Un écart important dans les études factuelles portant sur les programmes de dépistage visuel universels dans la population d’âge scolaire (6 ans et plus) a aussi été noté. À la lumière de ces constatations (dans la pratique comme dans la recherche), nous recommandons aux chercheurs et aux praticiens de la santé publique du pays d’évaluer leurs pratiques actuelles de dépistage visuel en milieu scolaire et de diffuser leurs constatations en les publiant. Nous concluons que l’évaluation et la recherche sur les programmes actuels de dépistage en milieu scolaire (qu’ils soient opportunistes ou universels) fourniront les données probantes nécessaires pour guider les pratiques.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Eastern HealthPH—PeninsulasBonavistaCanada

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