Helping children see

Girl wearing glasses hangs from jungle gym

For children, approximately 80 percent of learning takes place visually. Uncorrected vision problems can lead to lower early literacy skills, lower pre-reading skills in preschool, negative impacts on health and permanent vision loss. On the other hand, when vision problems are identified early, treatment options such as glasses are much more effective in helping a child maximize the use of their vision. This means that early detection and correction of vision problems is critical to child development. 

Since early vision screenings are so important, and one in four school-age children in the United States experiences vision problems, vision specialists recommend an initial screening for infants as young as six months and at least one screening from ages three to five, as well as annual screenings from kindergarten to fourth grade. However, according to Eyes On Learning—an Arizona-based coalition supporting healthy vision—only 29 percent of Arizona children 5 and younger received a vision screening in 2018, one of the lowest rates in the nation. 

Northern Arizona University’s Institute for Human Development (IHD) is committed to increasing the availability of vision screenings to children throughout northern Arizona with the help of a Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener, awarded to the institute from Eyes On Learning. The screener, which can be used to screen the vision of children as young as 12 months in a matter of minutes, provides valuable vision information for medical providers and caregivers. 

“IHD is home to a number of early childhood programs, all of which will now have access to this vision screener,” said Nicole Rambeau, occupational therapist with IHD’s Growing in Beauty Partnership Program. “It will specifically be utilized in our Interdisciplinary Training Clinic, which provides comprehensive developmental assessments to northern Arizona children.” 

Rambeau hopes that IHD can continue supporting existing partnerships and building new community connections in order to offer vision screenings at Northern Arizona Child Find events and other children’s wellness outreach opportunities. 

“IHD will be collecting data over the next two years regarding the number of children screened, and with the assistance of this generous award from Eyes On Learning, we hope to greatly increase vision screening rates for children across Arizona!” 

NAU Communications