The National Vision Screening Program for kindergarten
Republic Act 11358
Republic Act 11358 was enacted into law on July 31, 2019
Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a common condition among children that can cause permanent visual impairment if left untreated. Treatment involves corrective lenses and/or patching before the child reaches age 7.
The National Vision Screening Program (NVSP), spearheaded by the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI) in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DepEd), aims to screen all kindergarten pupils entering the Filipino school system at age 5 or 6 to detect errors of refraction and amblyopia. A PERI Vision Screening module was developed using evidence-based approach. This is a pass-fail system that will be conducted by teachers. Students who fail in the test will be asked to sit in the first row of the class as an immediate intervention and are subsequently referred to eye care practitioners for evaluation and treatment.
State of Eye Health in Children Today
Nationwide, four pupils in a class of 40 have vision problem; three of them may have error of refraction and one may have amblyopia or lazy eye. Amblyopia has a prevalence of 2-5% in children, making it one of the causes of visual impairment and preventable blindness.
Prevention is the Key
With the full implementation of the K to 12 program of the DepEd last 2012, preschool entry for public school system now starts earlier at the age of 5 or 6. Vision screening done at this age would allow early detection of amblyopia when treatment is still possible. Amblyopia, if not treated, will lead to educational, occupational and safety restrictions later in life.
The validated and pilot-tested PERI Vision Screening Kit will make the vision screening easy, fast, efficient and can be done using only one kit per school, making it cost-effective.
The symbols in the Vision Test Chart are culturally neutral and could be recognized across different socioeconomic status and cultural minorities. The use of the symbols allow vision screening to children who still don’t know how to read letters and/or numbers and can also work well with children with auditory and verbal difficulties. This is also useful for the typically shy preschoolers.
The numbers printed at the back can be used to screen older children who can read numbers.
The whole process is likened to a “play” or a matching game between the teacher and the pupil, allowing better compliance to the vision screening test.