Iowa Child Vision Screening Program

The purpose of the child vision screening program is to improve the eye health and vision of Iowa’s children. The child vision screening program establishes a comprehensive vision evaluation effort to facilitate early detection and referral for treatment of visual impairment in order to reduce vision impairment in children.

Program Documents

To order Certificate of Vision Screening forms please call the Iowa Healthy Families Line at   1-800-369-2229

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. You may contact her by phone or the IDPH “Contact Us” link at the top of this page and selecting Maternal and Child Health as the 'Message Subject'.

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.

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

Contact Information

Melissa Ellis, Executive Officer 2

Bureau of Family Health

Iowa Department of Public Health- 5th Floor Lucas Building

321 E. 12th Street

Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 537-6544

(515) 725 1760 fax