Saturday, February 23, 2019


A child is required by the State of Iowa to have a vision screening prior to entering Kindergarten and 3rd Grade.  A Screening will be valid if it is done up to 1 year prior to enrollment and no later than 6 months after enrollment (kindergarten) or first day of school (3rd graders).   For additional information please visit the following website:

Vision disability is the single most prevalent disabling condition among children. Failing to detect and treat vision disorders may lead to full or partial blindness. Washington County Public Health is able incorporate vision screenings into our Child Health program at Washington County Public Health. The Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener is an acceptable child vision screening method approved by the Iowa Department of Public Health to meet the child vision screening requirements pursuant to Iowa code for kindergarten and 3rd graders. This screener can be used on all patients regardless of age, eye color, disability, or other limiting factors. While vision charts are subjective, the Sure Spot provides reliable, objective, automatic screenings so that we're able to reliably refer patients on for necessary follow up care. 

The Sure Spot Vision Screener will ensure children get appropriate and timely referral to an optometrist if necessary. Failing to detect and treat vision disorders has been shown to negatively impact child development, academic achievement, self-esteem, social-emotional behavior and juvenile delinquency. Providing the screening during the provision of other services improves accessibility for low-income children.  This vision screening tool gives Washington County Public Health a great opportunity to reach children at a very young age, so we can identify issues prior to them starting school.

Washington County Public Health would like to thank the Washington County Riverboat Foundation for their generous monetary gift that allowed our agency to purchase the Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener.  If you are interested in a vision screening for your child please contact Jen Weidman at 319-653-7758 ext. 104 to schedule an appointment.

Acceptable Child Vision Screening Methods

With input from the Iowa Child Vision Screening Workgroup, the following child vision screening methods are approved by IDPH to meet the child vision screening requirements pursuant to the authority of Iowa Code Section 135.39D for kindergarten and third grade:

  • A comprehensive eye exam provided by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
  • A combination of scientifically-validated screening tools (used together) that includes observing signs of a vision problem (appearance, behaviors or complaints), binocular function, and visual acuity.
  • A scientifically-validated screening tool (used alone).

Depending on the child’s age, a variety of screening tools are acceptable:

Tools for children under the age of 6 years are (in no specific order):

  • Crowded LEA Symbols flip book
  • HOTV flip book/vision chart
  • iScreen Ophthalmic Camera
  • SPOT, Plusoptix, Welsch Allen Sure Sight (Autorefractors)
  • EyeSpy 20/20 (a computer based technology)*

*EyeSpy 20/20 is the only acceptable computer-based child vision screening method approved at this time.  All other computer based child vision screening methods must be submitted to the Iowa Department of Public Health Iowa Child Vision Screening Program for approval to meet the requirements of the child vision screening law.  Requests for approval must be sent in writing to Melissa Ellis, Program Coordinator.

Tools for children over the age of 6 years* are (in no specific order):

  • Sloan vision chart
  • HOTV vision chart
  • LEA Numbers wall chart
  • Lighthouse
  • Snellen vision chart**

*Some children over the age of 6 years may not be capable of completing a vision chart.  If a child over the age of 6 years cannot complete a vision chart, it is acceptable to use one of the automated screening tools for children under 6 in the list above. (iScreen, SPOT, Plusoptix, Sure Sight)

**The Snellen vision chart was identified by the Iowa Child Vision Screening Workgroup as being outdated.  As of July 1, 2017, this test will no longer be included on the list of acceptable screening methods by IDPH.

Additional Resources

For more information about child vision screening or training, please contact any of these eye health resources:

Iowa KidSight 

Iowa KidSight is a joint project of the Lions Clubs of Iowa and the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, dedicated to enhancing the early detection and treatment of vision impairments in young children (target population 6 months of age through kindergarten) in Iowa communities through screening and public education.

Iowa Optometric Association           

The mission of the Iowa Optometric Association (IOA) is to improve the quality, availability and accessibility of eye/vision care in Iowa, to represent the optometric profession to government, third parties and the public, and to assist members in conducting their practices successfully in accordance with the highest standards of patient care and efficiency.

Prevent Blindness Iowa                     

Prevent Blindness Iowa is at work in communities across Iowa with sight-saving programs for children, adults and older citizens. Prevent Blindness Iowa is a leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight through public and professional education, early detection, patient services and research. Prevent Blindness offer training and certification in adult vision screenings and children's vision screenings, and training in automated vision screening device techniques.  For more information call 1-800-329-8782 Call: 1-800-329-8782