Utilization and barriers to eye care following school-wide pediatric vision screening
Ontario’s Child Visual Health and Vision Screening Protocol introduced in 2018 is evaluated in this study, focusing on senior kindergarten students (aged 4-6 years). Vision screening data from 41 schools, involving 1,127 children, were collected during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. Subsequently, phone follow-ups were conducted 1-1.5 years after screening to assess resource utilization and barriers to eye care access. The findings revealed a 32.2% referral rate following vision screening. Among the referred children who responded, 69.9% sought eye care, and 65.2% of these visits were prompted by the screening. About 34.4% of referred children were prescribed glasses. Notably, a significant association was observed between receiving a referral and living in more materially and socially deprived areas. The study identified common barriers to accessing eye care, including insufficient insurance coverage, COVID-19-related challenges, and scheduling conflicts. Overall, the vision screening program successfully identified and referred more than a third of screened children for follow-up eye examinations, with those in more deprived neighborhoods more frequently referred.