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The vision-screening program for 3.5-year-old children in Japan consists of 3 steps:questionnaires and home visual acuity testing, visual acuity testing by nurses and inspection by medical officers at regional Public Health Centers, and examinations by ophthalmologists. In this study, we tested refraction with a hand-held autorefractometer in addition to visual acuity testing and inspection to reveal whether or not autorefraction leads to better detection of eye problems. Autorefraction was performed in 6 consecutive sessions by a single examiner in 265 children at 3.5 years of age who all visited the same center. The children were sent to the third step of examinations by ophthalmologists based on refractive error criteria:3 diopters myopia or 1 diopter hyperopia, and/or 2 diopters astigmatism in either eye, in addition to the current criteria:1) failure in either eye for 0.5 visual acuity at the center, 2) eye-related symptoms revealed by the questionnaires, or 3) eye problems detected by medical officers. Notices to visit ophthalmologists were issued for 64 children (24%), and 37 of those (58%) made the visits, so that documents containing final diagnoses were sent back to the Public Health Office. Of the 64 children, 12 were sent to ophthalmologists based on the current criteria only, 10 based on both the current criteria and the refractive error criteria, and 42 based on the refractive error criteria only. Twelve of the 13 children visiting ophthalmologists by the current criteria had diagnoses such as amblyopia and strabismus. In contrast, 15 of 24 children visiting ophthalmologists by only the refractive error criteria had mainly diagnoses of refractive errors, with no serious problems. In conclusion, autorefraction in addition to visual acuity testing and inspection led to detection of only one additional case of an eye disease at 3.5 years, while tripling the number of children sending to the third-step examination by an ophthalmologist. Thus, from a cost-effectiveness standpoint, autorefraction is not recommended as an additional test when the current system is conducted as designed.
preschool vision screening program
Acta Medica Okayama
Okayama University Medical School
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