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Alaska Blind Child Discovery

A cooperative, charitable research project to vision screen every preschool Alaskan

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Simons K. Preschool vision screening: Rationale, methodology and outcome. Survey of Ophthalmology 1996;41(1):3-30.
Although population outcome studies support the utility of preschool screening for reducing the prevalence of amblyopia, fundamental questions remain about how best to do such screening. Infant photoscreening to detect refractive risk factors prior to onset of esotropia and amblyopia seems promising, but our current understanding of the natural history of these conditions is limited, thus limiting the prophylactic potential of early screening. Screening for strabismic, refractive and ocular disease conditions directly associated with amblyopia is more clearly proven, but the diversity of equipment, methods and subject populations studied make it difficult to draw precise summary conclusions at this point about the efficacy of photoscreening. Sensory-based testing of preschool-age children exhibits a similar combination of promise and limitations. The visual acuity tests most widely used for this purpose are prone to problems of testability and false negatives. Moreover, the utility of random-dot stereograms has been confused by misapplication, and new small-target binocularity tests, while attractive, are as yet inadequately field-proven. The evaluation standard for any screening modality is treatment outcome. However, variables in amblyopia classification and quantitative definition differences, timing of presentation, nonequivalent treatment comparisons, and compliance variability have been uncontrolled in virtually all extant studies of amblyopia treatment outcome, making it difficult or impossible to evaluate either the relative efficacy of different treatment regimens for amblyopia or the effects of age on treatment outcome within the preschool age range. The latter issue is a central one, since existence of such an age effect is the primary rationale for screening at younger rather than older preschool ages. The relatively low prevalence of amblyopia makes it difficult to achieve a high screening yield in terms of predictive value, but functionally increasing prevalence by selective screening of high risk populations causes further problems. Unless a "supertest" can be devised, with very high sensitivity and specificity, health policy decisions will be required to determine which of these two characteristics should be emphasized in screening programs. Performance of screening tests can be optimized, however, with adequate training, perhaps via instructional videotapes.

Simons K. Amblyopia characterization, treatment and prophylaxis. Surv Ophthalmol 2005;50(2):123-166.
Abstract. Amblyopia has a 1.6–3.6% prevalence, higher in the medically underserved. It is more complex than simply visual acuity loss and the better eye has sub-clinical deficits. Functional limitations appear more extensive and loss of vision in the better eye of amblyopes more prevalent than previously thought. Amblyopia screening and treatment are efficacious, but cost effectiveness concerns remain.  Refractive correction alone may successfully treat anisometropic amblyopia and it, minimal occlusion, and/or catecholamine treatment can provide initial vision improvement that may improve compliance with subsequent long-duration treatment. Atropine penalization appears as effective as occlusion for moderate amblyopia, with limited-day penalization as effective as full-time. Cytidin-5°¨-diphosphocholine may hold promise as amedical treatment. Interpretation of much of the amblyopia literature is made difficult by: inaccurate visual acuity measurement at initial visit, lack of adequate refractive correction prior to and during treatment, and lack of long-term follow-up results. Successful treatment can be achieved in at most 63–83% of patients. Treatment outcome is a function of initial visual acuity and type of amblyopia, and a reciprocal product of treatment efficacy, duration, and compliance. Age at treatment onset is not predictive of outcome in many studies but detection under versus over 2–3 years of age may be. Multiple screenings prior to that age, and prompt treatment, reduce prevalence. Would a single early cycloplegic photoscreening be as, or more, successful at detection or prediction than the multiple screenings, and more cost-effective? Penalization and occlusion have minimal incidence of reverse amblyopia and/or side-effects, no significant influence on emmetropization, and no consistent effect on sign or size of post-treatment changes in strabismic deviation. There may be a physiologic basis for better age-indifferent outcome than tapped by current treatment methodologies. Infant refractive correction substantially reduces accommodative esotropia and amblyopia incidence without interference with emmetropization. Compensatory prism, alone or post-operatively, and/or minus lens treatment, and/or wide-field fusional amplitude training, may reduce risk of early onset esotropia. Multivariate screening using continuous-scale measurements maybe more effective than traditional single-test dichotomous pass/fail measures. Pigmentation may be one parameter because Caucasians are at higher risk for esotropia than non-whites.

Wu C, Hunter DG. Amblyopia: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Options. Am J Ophthalmol 2006;141(1):175-184.

PURPOSE: To provide an overview of the current state of knowledge of amblyopia and highlight recent advances in diagnosis and treatment. DESIGN: Review of literature and perspective. METHODS: MEDLINE search for amblyopia, with a review of all recent literature adding authors' personal perspectives on the findings. RESULTS: Increased awareness of amblyopia and better screening techniques are required to identify children who are at risk for amblyopia at a younger age. Randomized, controlled trials have established atropine penalization as a viable alternative to occlusion therapy, have suggested that less treatment may be better tolerated and as effective as more traditionally used dosages, and have found no compelling evidence that treatment is beneficial clinically for older (over age 10) children with amblyopia. CONCLUSION: Early detection and treatment of amblyopia can improve the chances for a successful visual outcome. Considering that the conditions that place a patient at risk for amblyopia can be identified, that amblyopia responds to treatment, and that well-tolerated treatments for the condition are now recognized, it is not unreasonable to imagine that, in the near future, severe amblyopia could be eliminated as a public health problem.
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