Referral to community care from school-based eye care programs in the United States

Ahmed F. Shakarchi, Megan E. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Approximately 25% of school-aged children in the United States have vision abnormalities, most commonly refractive error that can be corrected with spectacles. Limited follow-up adherence after failed school-based vision screening led to an increase in school-based eye care programs that provide screening, eye examinations, and spectacle prescription at the school. These programs address the access barrier and often provide the first point of contact between children and eye care. Nevertheless, several lower prevalence conditions, such as amblyopia, strabismus, and glaucoma, cannot be adequately treated in the school setting, and some require frequent and long-term follow-up, necessitating referral to eye care providers in the community. We conducted a literature review and identified 10 programs that provided school-based screening, examinations, and spectacle prescription and reviewed their referral rates, criteria, mechanisms, adherence, ocular findings at referral, and long-term care plans. Most programs referred 1% to 5% of screened children. Most communicated with parents or guardians through referral letters and used various strategies to incentivize adherence. Referral adherence was 20-50% in the four programs that reported these data. School-based eye care programs rarely referred children for long-term follow-up care needs, such as updating spectacle prescriptions annually.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-867
Number of pages10
JournalSurvey of ophthalmology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • child and adolescent health
  • mobile vision clinics
  • school-based eye care
  • school-based health
  • vision screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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