The Vision Screening Committee of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the professional organization for pediatric eye care, has revised its guidelines for automated preschool vision screening based on new evidence. The new guidelines are published in the February issue of the Journal of AAPOS.
Approximately 2% of children develop amblyopia, sometimes known as "lazy eye" - a loss of vision in one or both eyes caused by conditions that impair the normal visual input during the period of development of vision. Amblyopia remains treatable until 60 months, with treatment becoming less effective after age 5.
The AAPOS Vision Screening Committee established the first guidelines for automated preschool vision screening in 2003. These primarily addressed the magnitude of refractive error that was (by consensus) thought to put a child at risk for the development of amblyopia. Since then, more data have emerged about the prevalence of amblyopia risk factors in young children from which it is clear that most children with these risk factors do not develop the condition. Likewise, technology has advanced, and screening instruments are now available that detect abnormalities other than amblyopia risk factors. The Committee has therefore reviewed the new evidence and adjusted its criteria.
"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 lead author Sean P. Donahue, MD, PhD, of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN. "It is exciting to see pediatricians adopt these technologies."
He continued: "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. It is therefore imperative that updated guidelines for detecting amblyopia risk factors propose levels that best separate those children who are most at risk for developing amblyopia from those who are not."
The Committee's recommendations include: