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Guidelines for pediatric vision screening methods updated

Mar. 7, 2013, 9:35 AM

The American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) recently revised the guidelines for reporting the results from studies of preschool vision screening instruments.

A driving force behind the update was Sean Donahue, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Pediatric Ophthalmology Service at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and chair of the committee that developed the guidelines.

Sean Donahue, M.D., Ph.D.

“Over the last decade, automated methods for vision screening have progressed to the point where they are now extremely effective in identifying vision problems in children prior to their being able to read an eye chart,” said Donahue, also the Sam and Darthea Coleman Chair in Pediatric Ophthalmology.

Specifically, the new guidelines include target risk factor amblyopia, the most common cause of vision impairment in children. Amblyopia is a decrease in visual acuity in a structurally normal eye and is not correctable with lenses.

According to Donahue, the first guidelines for the automated preschool screenings were created in 2003 to detect risk factors for amblyopia. Now that screening instruments have become more advanced, their use has become more widespread and more data are now available about their advantages and disadvantages.

Nearly 2 percent of children develop amblyopia, often times called “lazy eye.” The condition is treatable until a child reaches age 5. After then, treatment becomes less effective.

“If the detection of decreased vision and amblyopia are the goals of screening, then referrals based on technology that detects risk factors will result in over referrals,” said Donahue.

“And it’s imperative that updated guidelines for detecting amblyopia risk factors propose levels that best separate children who are most at risk for developing this condition from those who are not.”

The guidelines were published in the February issue of the Journal of AAPOS.

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