Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Vision screening for children as young as a year old recommended

Children as young as a year old can be reliably screened for amblyopia ("lazy eye") according to researchers at the University of Iowa.  The study reporting this finding was published online on February 11 in the journal Pediatrics. (LongmuirSQ, Boese EA, Pfeifer W, Zimmerman B, Short L, Scott WE. Practical CommunityPhotoscreening in Very Young Children. Pediatrics. 2013 Feb 11).

The study reporting this finding was published online on February 11 in the journal Pediatrics. (LongmuirSQ, Boese EA, Pfeifer W, Zimmerman B, Short L, Scott WE. Practical CommunityPhotoscreening in Very Young Children. Pediatrics. 2013 Feb 11 ).

Photoscreener

Using a specialized camera, symptoms of amblyopia can be detected by photoscreening, long before a parent might notice a problem.

Dr. Susannah Longmuir, assistant professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of Iowa was the corresponding author on the paper. Dr. Longmuir points out that if amblyopia is not caught before a child begins school, it may be too late to treat it and the earlier amblyopia is identified, the better.  The study goal was to provide the evidence needed to include toddlers in the standard recommendations for vision screening.

"We wanted to see if we could reliably screen the younger children (1 to 3 year olds) just as well as the 3-5 year olds," says Wanda Pfeifer, a University of Iowa Orthoptist and a co-author of the paper.

Trained volunteers across Iowa were trained "to conduct free vision screening events with the MIT PhotoScreener." This is an adapted camera that takes pictures of the eye.  It looks for risk factors of amblyopia.

During the first 11 years of its existence (May 2000 to April 2011), Iowa KidSight conducted 210,695 screenings of children's eyes. The youngest children were 6 months old, the oldest were 7 to 8 years old. The average age was 3.4 years. The study’s results confirmed that early screening, before amblyopia is more pronounced, can reliably detect risk factors of amblyopia in children younger than 3 years of age.

Read more at CNN’s “The Chart”  

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