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Ophthalmology association honors VUMC’s Donahue

Aug. 4, 2016, 10:02 AM

Sean Donahue, M.D., Ph.D., Sam and Darthea Coleman Professor of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), was recently named a Choosing Wisely Champion by the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS).
Donahue was recognized for his work in developing a screening instrument to help reduce the number of children who receive unnecessary eye examinations.

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

The Champions program is a national initiative that recognizes physicians who make significant contributions toward reducing overuse and waste in health care.

Donahue’s work serves as the basis for the AAPOS Choosing Wisely recommendation stating that asymptomatic children do not need reading glasses and that pediatric vision screening should be done in pediatrician offices during well-child visits.

“For the past 20 years I have advocated for pediatric eye screening in pediatricians’ offices and that children do not need routine eye exams,” said Donahue. “Most of my research has centered around developing and validating instruments that allow children to be screened in a more effective manner in pediatricians’ offices.

“We see so many kids who get an eye exam just because it is offered or paid for by insurance. It is one thing to get an examination that you don’t need, but when it leads to additional tests or treatments that are really unnecessary and expensive, then that is a problem. Many kids are being put into glasses that they do not need.”

Donahue said that although some states mandate annual eye exams, most children simply require routine vision screening in their medical home (primary care physician setting).

“If mandatory comprehensive eye exams were required by all states, more than $250 million would be spent on unnecessary glasses and another $500 million on exams.

“It is so important that providers follow the written guidelines outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics in an effort to decrease unnecessary costs in health care. The bottom line is that routine eye exams in children who are asymptomatic are not necessary,” Donahue said.

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