ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
CANCER
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
CAREGIVING
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
For Dialysis Patients, More Pills = Lower Quality of Life
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
The Best Diet? That Depends on You
Functional Foods Uncovered
Successful Weight Loss Shows Unique Brain Patterns
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
EYE CARE, VISION
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
FITNESS
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
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Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The standard test for checking the vision of young children cannot be completely trusted, Johns Hopkins University researchers report.

The test, called fixation preference test (FPT), is used to evaluate visual acuity, which is the ability of the eyes to focus images on the macula, the part of the eye that handles detailed vision.

"Current methods of testing vision in very young children need to be re-assessed," said lead researcher Dr. David S. Friedman, an associate professor of ophthalmology and international health at Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute.

The report was published in the October issue of Ophthalmology.

For the study, Friedman's team evaluated visual acuity in 1,504 children aged 30 to 71 months. The researchers used a series of tests including FPT and the Amblyopia Treatment Study test (ATS).

For the FPT, each eye is covered and then uncovered, which determines how well the eyes maintain fixation. The test is designed to measure visual acuity in the best eye. The purpose of the ATS test is to measure visual acuity in children aged 30 months and older.

The researchers found that the FPT, which is considered the standard for testing vision in young children and the only test available to most eye specialists, did not accurately identify problems in visual acuity.

The inaccuracy of the FPT was apparent, when the researchers compared test results between FPT and ATS among children who were able to take both tests.

Dr. Sandra Block, a professor of optometry at the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, isn't surprised that the FPT isn't foolproof.

"What we want to find out in children that are preschool age is a decrease in vision due to amblyopia such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or a significant astigmatism, which leads to 'lazy eye,'" Block said. "One test that looks at visual acuity in the good seeing eye does not give a full picture. We may be missing some of the amblyopia."

"It's very important in screening that we look at each eye individually, otherwise, we are going to miss some of those kids," Block said.

In another report in the same journal, the same research team noted a slight difference between visual acuity in black and white children among the same children tested in the first study.

"About 1 percent of preschool children who could have vision tested were found to have decreased vision," Friedman said. "Half of these could benefit from wearing glasses."

The researchers found that the prevalence of decreased visual acuity was relatively low, affecting 1.2 percent of white children and 1.8 percent of black children. The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant, the researchers noted.

The most common causes of decreased visual acuity were nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism. Only one child was legally blind.

Unidentified vision loss in preschool children is uncommon, Friedman said. "Increased efforts to identify children with vision loss at such a young age are probably not necessary," he said.

Block agrees vision problems among preschoolers are relatively rare, but parents should still have their children's eyes tested.

"The chances of vision problems in the preschool population are low, but they do exist," Block said. "The screenings are an important piece of the child's early evaluation and are usually done by a pediatrician as part of routine health care."

If a child appears to have a vision problem, he or she should be seen by a specialist, Block said. "Vision is an issue, and the best time to address it is early on, before it develops into true problems that cannot be corrected."

More information

For more on eye tests for children, visit Prevent Blindness America.



SOURCES: David S. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, ophthalmology and international health, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore; Sandra Block, O.D., professor, optometry, Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago; October 2008, Ophthalmology

Last Updated: Oct. 03, 2008

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