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Earlier Screening for Amblyopia in Children Recommended

Last Updated: February 11, 2013.

Photoscreening can detect risk factors for amblyopia in children as young as 1 year old, and should be performed starting at this age rather than at 3 years of age as current guidelines recommend, according to research published online Feb. 11 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Photoscreening can detect risk factors for amblyopia in children as young as 1 year old, and should be performed starting at this age rather than at 3 years of age as current guidelines recommend, according to research published online Feb. 11 in Pediatrics.

Noting that recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations report insufficient evidence to support vision screening for children younger than 3 years, Susannah Q. Longmuir, M.D., from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues reviewed data from 210,695 photoscreens performed on children 6 months of age and older at 13,750 sites from May 2000 through April 2011.

The researchers found that, in children younger than 3 years old, 13.0 percent of photoscreens were unreadable, 3.3 percent were referred to an eye care professional, and the overall positive predictive value for the detection of any amblyogenic risk factor was 86.6 percent. In children aged 3 to 6 years, 4.1 percent of photoscreens were unreadable, 4.7 percent were referred to an eye care professional, and the overall positive predictive value was 89.4 percent.

"No statistically significant difference was found in screening children from 1 to 3 years old compared with screening children >3 years old," Longmuir and colleagues conclude. "These results confirm that early screening, before amblyopia is more pronounced, can reliably detect amblyogenic risk factors in children younger than 3 years of age, and we recommend initiation of photoscreening in children aged 1 year and older."

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