PBA supports USPSTF screening recommendation

March 1, 2011

Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has commended the recent recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for vision screening of all children aged 3 to 5 years. The USPSTF recommendation updates the task force?s 2004 recommendation of vision screening for all children aged fewer than 5 years. The USPSTF now recommends vision screening for the presence of amblyopia and its risk factors for all children aged 3 to 5 years.

Chicago-Prevent Blindness America (PBA) has commended the recent recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for vision screening of all children aged 3 to 5 years.

The USPSTF recommendation updates the task force’s 2004 recommendation of vision screening for all children less than 5 years old. The USPSTF now recommends vision screening for the presence of amblyopia and its risk factors for all children aged 3 to 5 years. For children less than 3 years old, the USPSTF concluded that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of vision screening.

As noted by the recent USPSTF report “Screening for Visual Impairment in Children Ages 1 to 5,” about 2% to 4% of preschool-aged children have amblyopia. The USPSTF said that screening for vision impairment before school entry could help identify children who may benefit from early interventions to correct or to improve vision.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, impaired vision can affect a child’s cognitive, emotional, neurologic, and physical development by potentially limiting the range of experiences and kinds of information to which the child is exposed.

“A professional eye examination is, without a doubt, the gold standard of eye care, and should always be encouraged,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and chief executive officer of PBA. “Yet vision screenings are an essential element of a strong public health approach to children’s vision care, facilitating the early identification of vision and eye problems and linkage to appropriate care. It is critically important that all children, regardless of financial resources or barriers to care, are able to obtain sight-saving services.”

The USPSTF noted some potential harms of preschool vision screening. These include psychosocial effects such as labeling and anxiety, unnecessary referrals because of false-positive screening results, and unnecessary use of corrective lenses or treatments to prevent amblyopia. The task force said that well-designed studies are needed to identify the optimal age for initiation of screening, optimal screening methods, and optimal screening frequency.