Health Blog

Vision, Vision, Vision: The Difference Between Tests, Screenings and Exams

There are many eye and vision problems commonly seen in children. With vision disorders being one of the most widespread disabilities in childhood, it is important as a parent to know the difference between a vision test, vision screening, and comprehensive eye exam. It can often be confusing making sure your child gets the appropriate vision care, especially given the number of terms used for checking eyes, but this blog post will discuss the basics.

What are the differences between vision tests, screenings, and comprehensive eye exams?

Vision Tests:

  • These are tests performed to determine something about the eye. Vision tests could be as simple as reading letters or as complicated as measuring the prescription in your eye. Both screenings and exams involve vision tests, but there are some important differences between screenings and comprehensive exams.


  • These are performed by individuals or organizations that are not typically eye professionals, such as schools, health departments, pediatricians, nurses or other professionals. Screenings only identify if there might be a vision problem, and are judged based on passing or failing. Screenings will not always detect eye problems in everyone who has them, nor will screenings identify everyone correctly as having an eye problem.

Comprehensive Eye Exams

  • These are performed by eye professionals, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Exams involve numerous tests, which look at the health of the eye inside and out, and they are often performed before and after dilation drops to determine if someone needs glasses. Many tests are objective tests meaning the patient does not need to speak during the exam, which is especially important for very young children. Comprehensive eye exams are not judged based on passing or failing, and instead provide you with a diagnosis and treatment plan following the exam.

When is it recommended that a child receive an eye exam?

The American Optometric Association recommends that children have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6-12 months. At these exams, the concern is not small problems with the eye, but problems that would get in the way of the development of vision and could possibly affect vision for the rest of a child’s life. With eye exams at this age, problems can be caught early and easily corrected. The next exams are recommended at the age of 3, and every two years after that. As time goes on an eye care professional will track health problems, and ensure they are able to see clearly.

Where can I get an eye exam for my child?

Cherry Health provides comprehensive adult and pediatric vision services at the Heart of the City Health Center, Montcalm Area Health Center and Wyoming Community Health Center. In Cherry Health also has a traveling school health program that provides complete eye exams for children right in school. If you would like your child to be seen for an eye exam contact us at one of our locations!







Dr. Kevin Bos
Optometrist at Heart of the City Health Center Vision