Compliance with vision-screening guidelines among a national sample of pediatricians

Academic Article


  • Objective. - The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends vision screening from birth through adolescence, with visual acuity testing and binocular screening to begin at age 3 years. The 1996 AAP guidelines advised referral for visual acuity worse than 20/40 for children aged 3 to 5 years and worse than 20/30 for children aged 6 years and older. Our objective was to describe vision-screening and referral practices in a national sample of primary care pediatricians. Methods. - We mailed a survey to a random sample of US pediatricians. Initial nonresponders were mailed up to 3 additional surveys. All mailings occurred between May and October 1998. Analyses focused on primary care pediatricians and consisted of descriptive statistics and regression analyses. The main outcome measure was compliance with 1996 AAP recommendations for vision screening. Results. - Of the 1491 surveys mailed, 888 (60%) were returned, including 576 (65%) from primary care pediatricians. Vision-screening methods included visual acuity testing (92%), cover test (64%), red reflex test (95%), fundoscopic examinations (65%), and stereopsis testing (32%). Respondents routinely performed visual acuity testing at 3 years (37%), 4 years (79%), 5 years (91%), 6 years (80%), 7-12 years (82%), and 13-18 years (80%). Visual acuity thresholds for referring 3- and 4-year-olds were 20/40 (47%, 51%), 20/50 (36%, 32%), or worse than 20/50 (14%, 12%). The majority of pediatricians referred children aged 5 years and older at 20/40, although thresholds worse than 20/40 were reported commonly (18%-33%). Logistic regressions were done to identify factors associated with higher likelihood of performing specific screening tests. Although no factor was consistently associated with use of all screening Conclusions. - Many pediatricians do not follow AAP guidelines for vision screening and referral, especially in younger children. Two thirds of pediatricians do not begin visual acuity testing at age 3 years as recommended, and about one fifth do not test until age 5 years. In addition, one fourth do not perform cover tests or stereopsis testing at any age.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wall TC; Marsh-Tootle W; Evans HH; Fargason CA; Ashworth CS; Hardin JM
  • Start Page

  • 449
  • End Page

  • 455
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 6