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      Vision Screening for Children 36 to <72 Months: Recommended Practices

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          This article provides recommendations for screening children aged 36 to younger than 72 months for eye and visual system disorders. The recommendations were developed by the National Expert Panel to the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, sponsored by Prevent Blindness, and funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, United States Department of Health and Human Services. The recommendations describe both best and acceptable practice standards. Targeted vision disorders for screening are primarily amblyopia, strabismus, significant refractive error, and associated risk factors. The recommended screening tests are intended for use by lay screeners, nurses, and other personnel who screen children in educational, community, public health, or primary health care settings. Characteristics of children who should be examined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist rather than undergo vision screening are also described.


          There are two current best practice vision screening methods for children aged 36 to younger than 72 months: (1) monocular visual acuity testing using single HOTV letters or LEA Symbols surrounded by crowding bars at a 5-ft (1.5 m) test distance, with the child responding by either matching or naming, or (2) instrument-based testing using the Retinomax autorefractor or the SureSight Vision Screener with the Vision in Preschoolers Study data software installed (version 2.24 or 2.25 set to minus cylinder form). Using the Plusoptix Photoscreener is acceptable practice, as is adding stereoacuity testing using the PASS (Preschool Assessment of Stereopsis with a Smile) stereotest as a supplemental procedure to visual acuity testing or autorefraction.


          The National Expert Panel recommends that children aged 36 to younger than 72 months be screened annually (best practice) or at least once (accepted minimum standard) using one of the best practice approaches. Technological updates will be maintained at http://nationalcenter.preventblindness.org.

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          Most cited references 85

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          Prevalence of amblyopia and strabismus in white and African American children aged 6 through 71 months the Baltimore Pediatric Eye Disease Study.

          To determine the age-specific prevalence of strabismus in white and African American children aged 6 through 71 months and of amblyopia in white and African American children aged 30 through 71 months. Cross-sectional, population-based study. White and African American children aged 6 through 71 months in Baltimore, MD, United States. Among 4132 children identified, 3990 eligible children (97%) were enrolled and 2546 children (62%) were examined. Parents or guardians of eligible participants underwent an in-home interview and were scheduled for a detailed eye examination, including optotype visual acuity and measurement of ocular deviations. Strabismus was defined as a heterotropia at near or distance fixation. Amblyopia was assessed in those children aged 30 through 71 months who were able to perform optotype testing at 3 meters. The proportions of children aged 6 through 71 months with strabismus and of children aged 30 through 71 months with amblyopia. Manifest strabismus was found in 3.3% of white and 2.1% of African American children (relative prevalence [RP], 1.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.97-2.66). Esotropia and exotropia each accounted for close to half of all strabismus in both groups. Only 1 case of strabismus was found among 84 white children 6 through 11 months of age. Rates were higher in children 60 through 71 months of age (5.8% for whites and 2.9% for African Americans [RP, 2.05; 95% CI, 0.79-5.27]). Amblyopia was present in 12 (1.8%) white and 7 (0.8%) African American children (RP, 2.23; 95% CI, 0.88-5.62). Only 1 child had bilateral amblyopia. Manifest strabismus affected 1 in 30 white and 1 in 47 African American preschool-aged children. The prevalence of amblyopia was <2% in both whites and African Americans. National population projections suggest that there are approximately 677,000 cases of manifest strabismus among children 6 through 71 months of age and 271 000 cases of amblyopia among children 30 through 71 months of age in the United States.
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            Prevalence of amblyopia or strabismus in asian and non-Hispanic white preschool children: multi-ethnic pediatric eye disease study.

            To determine the age- and race-specific prevalence of amblyopia in Asian and non-Hispanic white children aged 30 to 72 months and of strabismus in children aged 6 to 72 months. Cross-sectional survey. A population-based, multiethnic sample of children aged 6 to 72 months was identified in Los Angeles and Riverside counties in California to evaluate the prevalence of ocular conditions. A comprehensive eye examination and in-clinic interview were conducted with 80% of eligible children. The examination included evaluation of ocular alignment, refractive error, and ocular structures in children aged 6 to 72 months, as well as a determination of optotype visual acuity (VA) in children aged 30 to 72 months. The proportion of 6- to 72-month-old participants with strabismus and 30- to 72-month-olds with optotype VA deficits and amblyopia risk factors consistent with study definitions of amblyopia. Strabismus was found in 3.55% (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.68-4.60) of Asian children and 3.24% (95% CI, 2.40-4.26) of non-Hispanic white children, with a higher prevalence with each subsequent older age category from 6 to 72 months in both racial/ethnic groups (P=0.0003 and 0.02, respectively). Amblyopia was detected in 1.81% (95% CI, 1.06-2.89) of Asian and non-Hispanic white children; the prevalence of amblyopia was higher for each subsequent older age category among non-Hispanic white children (P=0.01) but showed no significant trend among Asian children (P=0.30). The prevalence of strabismus was similar in Asian and non-Hispanic white children and was found to be higher among older children from 6 to 72 months. The prevalence of amblyopia was the same in Asian and non-Hispanic white children; prevalence seemed to be higher among older non-Hispanic white children but was relatively stable by age in Asian children. These findings may help clinicians to better understand the patterns of strabismus and amblyopia and potentially inform planning for preschool vision screening programs. The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article. Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              New design principles for visual acuity letter charts.

               M Lovie,  Emma Downs (1976)
              This paper intoduces new principles for the design and use of letter charts for the measurement of visual acuity. It is advocated that the test task should be essentially the same at each size level on the chart. Such standardization of the test task requires the use of letters of equal legibility, the same number of letters on each row, and uniform between-letter and between-row spacing. It is also advocated that, combined with the test task standardization, there should be a logarithmic progression of letter size. Charts incorporating these design features have been made. These charts facilitate the use of nonstandard testing distances which might be used when there is low visual acuity, when examination room layout prevents testing at the standard distance, or when it is necessary to validate visual acuity scores or detect malingering. Adjusting the visual acuity score according to the chosen testing distance is simplified by the use of logarithmic scaling.

                Author and article information

                Optom Vis Sci
                Optom Vis Sci
                Optometry and Vision Science
                Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
                January 2015
                22 December 2014
                : 92
                : 1
                : 6-16
                *OD, MS, FAAO
                PhD, OD, FAAO
                MD, MPH
                §MD, MSCE
                Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University, Fullerton, California (SAC); Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry, Tahlequah, Oklahoma (LAC); University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona (JMM); and Department of Ophthalmology, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (GEQ).
                Author notes
                Susan Cotter Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University 2575 Yorba Linda Blvd Fullerton, CA 92831 e-mail: scotter@ 123456ketchum.edu
                OPX13535 00006
                Copyright © 2014 American Academy of Optometry

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