AOA Issues New Evidence-Based Pediatric Eye and Vision Guidelines


ST. LOUIS—Recognizing that eye and vision problems in children are a significant public health concern, the American Optometric Association (AOA) this week issued revised, evidence-based clinical pediatric guidelines for optometrists and other professionals who treat children’s eye health.

The research-based tool, "Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline: Comprehensive Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination," is now available online. The guidelines reflect a “systematic review and rigorous assessment by the AOA’s Evidenced-Based Optometry (EBO) Committee, along with experts in their fields, including doctors of optometry, a pediatrician, a social worker and a parent,” AOA said in its announcement.

The guidelines also are intended for use by parents and caregivers, AOA noted. An estimated one in five preschool children have vision problems, and one in four school-age children wear corrective eyewear in this country, according to AOA.

The guideline makes the argument for in-person, comprehensive eye exams for newborns through children who are 18 years old.

“What becomes critically important in children is the impact eyecare and vision health can have on how well they function in their lives,” Diane Adamczyk, OD, chair of AOA’s EBO Committee, said in the announcement. “If this guideline heightens the awareness of getting children's eyes checked, we've accomplished our purpose.”

The EBO Committee played a lead role in developing the revised guidelines.

The guideline for pediatric eye and vision care is designed to:
1. Recommend optimal intervals for in-person, comprehensive eye and vision examinations for infants and children (newborn through 18 years old).

2. Suggest appropriate procedures to effectively examine the eye health, vision status and ocular manifestations of systemic disease in infants and children.

3. Reduce the risks and adverse effects of eye and vision problems in infants and children through prevention, education, early diagnosis, treatment and management.

4. Inform and educate patients, parents/caregivers and other health care providers about the importance of eye health and good vision, and the need for and frequency of pediatric eye and vision examinations.

AOA president Andrea P. Thau, OD, is urging ECPs and other health care providers to use the guideline to provide exceptional care for their patients, the announcement noted.

“Children in America are entitled to the best, evidence-based care we can provide," Dr. Thau said. “These recommendations are the only guideline for providing evidence-based care to help protect the eye care and vision health of the next generation. As America's eye doctors, we are in a unique position to make a difference for these young people.”

The clinical practice guidelines represent three years of work by the committee, whose members identified and read 1,475 abstracts and 353 articles, AOA noted.