Vision Screening for Correctable Visual Acuity Deficits in School-Age Children and Adolescents

  • The objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of vision screening programmes carried out in schools to reduce the prevalence of correctable visual acuity deficits due to refractive error in school‐age children.

  • The study included randomised controlled trials (RCTs), including cluster‐randomised trials, that compared vision screening with no vision screening, or compared interventions to improve uptake of spectacles or efficiency of vision screening.

  • Seven relevant studies were identified. Five of these studies were conducted in China with one study in India and one in Tanzania. A total of 9858 children aged between 10 and 18 years were randomised in these studies, 8240 of whom (84%) were followed up between one and eight months after screening.

  • Two studies compared vision screening with the provision of free spectacles versus vision screening with no provision of free spectacles (prescription only).

  • Two studies explored the effect of an educational intervention in addition to vision screening on spectacle wear.

  • Three studies compared vision screening with ready‐made spectacles versus vision screening with custom‐made spectacles.

  • The authors concluded that vision screening plus provision of free spectacles improves the number of children who have and wear the spectacles they need compared with providing a prescription only. This may lead to better educational outcomes. Health education interventions, as currently devised and tested, do not appear to improve spectacle wearing in children. In lower‐income settings, ready‐made spectacles may provide a useful alternative to expensive custom‐made spectacles.

Publication date

October 30, 2020


Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews


Jennifer R Evans, Priya Morjaria, and Christine Powel
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