Now see this! Trained screeners can identify preschoolers with a vision disorder

August 5, 2004

Specially trained nurses and lay people using certain vision screening tests to identify preschoolers with vision disorders perform effectively in their work and achieve comparable results, according to a study of more than 1,400 children that was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Specially trained nurses and lay people using certain vision screening tests to identify preschoolers with vision disorders perform effectively in their work and achieve comparable results, according to a study of more than 1,400 children that was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

In comparisons using selected vision screening tests, trained nurses and lay people were able to correctly identify as many as 68% of children who had at least one of the most prevalent vision disorders of childhood: amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (eye misalignment), refractive errors (poor vision that can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses) or poor vision not associated with any obvious disorder.

Researchers estimate that, nationwide, 2% to 5% of children between 3 and 5 years old have amblyopia; 3% to 4% have strabismus; and 10% to 15% have a significant refractive error.

The broader purpose of the two-phase Vision In Preschoolers Study (VIP Study) is to identify whether vision-screening tests can accurately identify preschool-aged children who would benefit from a comprehensive vision examination. Study personnel evaluated selected children enrolled in five Head Start centers across the country. For the phase of the study that examined the ability of nurses and lay examiners, the testers administered four vision screening tests to 1,452 children at five Head Start centers nationwide. They screened all children who had failed a basic Head Start vision screening and a random sample of children who passed the screening.

"We are excited to have found that trained lay screeners and nurses can use those tools effectively," said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI). "As early detection of childhood eye disease increases the likelihood of successful treatment, these results have important implications for the visual health of children."

The VIP Study was funded by the (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health. Results from the second phase of this study are published in the August 2005 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

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