Vision and Hearing in Grade-schoolers
Learn when your school nurse or pediatrician should check your child’s ears and eyes.
By: Gregory Germain, MD
Most schools test kids’ hearing and vision about every two years, although state and county policies differ. If yours doesn’t, ask your pediatrician to perform these tests during your child’s physical exam.
While these tests may make your child nervous, she will soon see that they are nothing to worry about. Since hearing and vision testing is part of a kids’ regular doctors visits beginning in infancy, chances are if anything is wrong it will already have been discovered by this time. That said, it is still important to keep checking so that interventions can begin early if necessary.
Vision testing looks at two qualities: eye alignment and visual acuity or sharpness. In young children, around five, the test makes sure that the eyes are tracking equally and are properly lined up. Some pediatricians have computerized devices that can check for abnormalities at an earlier age.
The hearing screen is pure tone audiometry—your child slips on headphones and listens to a series of tones and beeps in various pitches and frequencies. Each time she hears a sound she raises the corresponding hand. If there seems to be any problem your child will be retested or referred to an expert for more testing. Remember that although screening tests are important, some false positive testing occurs in the process. So don't panic if you get a note from the school nurse.