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New Guidelines on Vision Checks for Kids

Task force recommends those 5 and under be checked for host of problems

WEDNESDAY, June 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Children younger than 5 years old should be screened by primary-care doctors for vision problems such as lazy eye, crossed eyes and near- and far-sightedness.

So says a new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

There's fair evidence that screening tests can help detect these kinds of vision problems, according to the task force, an independent panel of experts sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

If screening reveals a child to have any of these vision problems, he should be referred to an eye specialist for further testing, the task force recommends.

Between 5 percent and 10 percent of preschoolers in the United States have a visual impairment.

"Early testing for vision problems is key to preventing learning disabilities or, in some cases, significant visual impairment in children," task force chairman Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a prepared statement.

"Screening, including the newer methods available, can help parents and clinicians detect and treat vision problems early," Calonge said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children's vision.

SOURCE: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, news release, May 26, 2004
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