National Center for Health Research’s Public Comments on the USPSTF Draft Recommendation Statement on Vision Screening in Children Ages 6 Months to 5 Years
Thank you for the opportunity to express our views on the draft recommendations for vision screening for young children. This is an important issue for public health. The National Center for Health Research is a nonprofit think tank that conducts, analyzes, and scrutinizes research, policies, and programs on a range of issues related to health and safety. We do not accept funding from companies that make products that are the subject of our work.
We support the efforts of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to re-evaluate its recommendations in light of new research regarding screenings for amblyopia and its risk factors in young children. We agree that there is sufficient evidence to support screening for children aged 3 to 5 years and insufficient evidence to recommend for or against screening children younger than 3 years.
As stated in the review and recommendations, amblyopia is one of the most common causes of monocular vision loss for adults. Visual impairments that are not treated can lead to a host of issues, including “physical and verbal bullying, depression and anxiety, poor visuomotor skills, low self-esteem, problems at school and work, and accidents and injuries.”
Vision screening tests help to identify most children with risk factors, and numerous tests are available that can be effective in screening children through early developmental stages. In addition, early treatments for amblyopia and its risk factors can improve vision. However, the effectiveness of treatment reduces with age and eventually vision loss can become irreversible. Thus, not detecting amblyopia can cause problems later in life. Therefore, screening and treatment during these early years can be highly beneficial for these children.
In conclusion, we support USPSTF’s draft recommendation for vision screening in young children as well as their broader efforts to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services. As more information becomes available, we encourage the provision of additional recommendations about procedures that improve the benefits of vision tests for children and their families.
For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Megan Polanin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 223-4000.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2017, February). Draft Recommendation Statement. Vision in Children Ages 6 Months to 5 Years: Screening. Retrieved from https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/draft-recommendation-statement/vision-in-children-ages-6-months-to-5-years-screening.
U.S. Preventive Task Force (2017, February). Draft Evidence Review. Draft Evidence Review for Vision in Children Ages 6 Months to 5 Years: Screening. Retrieved from https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/draft-evidence-review/vision-in-children-ages-6-months-to-5-years-screening.