What are vision and hearing screenings, and how can they help your child?
Why does the MCHD offer vision and hearing screenings?
The Moultrie County Health Department (MCHD) conducts vision and hearing screenings throughout the year for children ages 3-18. We do this because a child’s vision and hearing can be critical to their physical and mental health and development.
How can a vision or hearing screening help my child?
Research has shown that children with uncorrected vision problems may struggle academically, particularly in reading and math.
Vision screenings can help identify these problems at an early age and support prompt treatment or other corrective measures. These measures can potentially improve a child's vision, as well as their safety and ability to learn now and throughout the rest of their life.
Hearing problems can also interfere with a child's ability to learn, understand instructions, and communicate. Studies show that children with hearing loss can experience difficulties with behavior, social skills, and academic performance.
Likewise, hearing screenings can help identify problems that may adversely affect a child's educational and social experience.
Who conducts MCHD’s vision and hearing screenings?
The MCHD employs registered nurses, who are certified by the Illinois Department of Public Health, to conduct vision and hearing screenings for children between ages 3-18.
Vision and hearing screenings are painless and tailored to your child’s age and developmental abilities. The screenings can be completed in less than 30 minutes and can determine if your child’s vision and hearing are within a normal range.
Results of the screening are available immediately, and the RN can discuss those with you at the time of the visit. The MCHD can also refer you to a vision or hearing specialist or other medical providers if necessary.
How much do vision and hearing screenings cost?
The screening services provided by the MCHD are a very cost-effective way to check your child’s ability to see and hear.
The MCHD provides vision and hearing screenings at no cost for all children 3-5 years of age through a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
If a parent wishes to have a child 6-18 years of age screened, there is a small fee.
What are the symptoms of vision or hearing loss?
Children who have difficulty seeing may frequently rub their eyes, close one eye or squint, complain of blurred vision or headaches, struggle with reading or doing other close-up work, or have trouble with hand-eye coordination (such as throwing or catching a ball.)
Children with undiagnosed hearing loss may speak loudly, frequently mispronounce words, fail to respond appropriately to questions or instructions, consistently turn to one side when being spoken to, or seem aloof or distracted.
If a child is school-aged, unusual difficulty completing assignments or falling grades may also indicate vision problems or hearing loss.
What causes vision loss in children?
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), one in five children has a vision problem that may impact their learning.
Many common causes of visual disturbances in children can be corrected or even reversed if detected early. The most common conditions that cause vision disturbances in children include:
- Nearsightedness (myopia) – You can see up close but blurry in the distance.
- Farsightedness (hyperopia) – You can see clearly in the distance but blurry up close.
- Astigmatism – Another condition that causes blurred vision, but it is because of the cornea’s irregular shape.
- Cross-eyed (Strabismus) – This condition occurs when the eyes do not line up or are crossed, with the eyes turned inward towards the nose.
- Lazy Eye (Amblyopia) – This condition occurs when the brain ignores visual information from one eye, which causes problems with vision development.
What are the causes of hearing loss in children?
There are many causes of hearing loss, including genetics, infections, noise, trauma, and some medications. Early identification and intervention of hearing loss can improve children's educational and social outcomes.
When a child’s hearing condition goes undetected, problems in language development and additional issues can develop. These issues include difficulties in literacy, self-esteem, overall learning, and social isolation. Such challenges can lead to life-long consequences.
When can I arrange a vision and hearing screening for my child?
The MCHD offers vision and hearing screening appointments for children throughout the year. If you have questions about vision and hearing loss, or would like to know more about the screening services, please contact the Moultrie County Health Department.