Whole-Population Vision Screening in Children Aged 4-5 Years to Detect Amblyopia
Amblyopia affects at least 2% of most populations and can lead to permanently reduced vision if not detected and treated within a specific period in childhood.
Whole population screening of children younger than age 5 is applied in many countries.
Screening and diagnosis should be globally standardized.
SUMMARY: Amblyopia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects at least 2% of most populations and can lead to permanently reduced vision if not detected and treated within a specific period in childhood. Whole-population screening of children younger than 5 years is applied in many countries. The substantial diversity in existing programmes reflects their heterogeneous implementation in the absence of the complete evidence base that is now a pre-requisite for instituting screening. The functional importance of amblyopia at an individual level is unclear as data are scarce, but in view of the high prevalence the population-level effect might be notable. Screening of all children aged 4–5 years (eg, at school entry) confers most benefit and addresses inequity in access to timely treatment. Screening at younger ages is associated with increased risk of false-positive results, and at older ages with poor outcomes for children with moderate to severe amblyopia. We suggest that the real-life adverse effects of amblyopia should be characterised and screening and diagnosis should be standardised.