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Detecting "Lazy Eye" Earlier
Date:7/7/2011

h readily identifiable strabismus, other eye disease or developmental delay were excluded.

A binocularity score below 60 percent (fewer than three focusing successes in five attempts) was considered a "refer," indicating a need for further examination. Among 2- to 6-year-old children, binocularity scores averaged 9 percent for those with amblyopia and 8 percent for those with strabismus, versus 89 percent in the control group. The scanner could detect amblyopia even in the absence of measurable strabismus, and documented improved binocularity in these children after treatment.

"We designed the device to detect strabismus, but the fact that the device could detect any form of amblyopia was completely unexpected – and a key advance for making more accurate referrals," says Hunter, also a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

Overall, the scanner had an overall sensitivity and specificity of 96 percent for detecting amblyopia or strabismus as compared with gold-standard ophthalmologic tests. Hunter hopes the device will be adopted into general pediatric practice and used to screen toddlers and preschoolers for amblyopia during annual well-child visits. Eye exams done just before entry to school, mandated in some states, come too late to treat amblyopia most effectively, he says.

"This technology has the potential to give pediatricians the tool they need to quickly and easily identify those kids most in need of a specialist eye exam as soon as they develop a problem," Hunter says. "As a result, we expect that health insurers and government agencies will embrace this test, which should reduce the cost of care while at the same time improving quality and efficiency, potentially saving vision in hundreds of thousands of children."

The scanner is the result of 20 years of research funding from a variety of agencies. A lighter, more user-friendly prototype of the device is currently undergoing clinical testing at se
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SOURCE Children's Hospital Boston
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