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Vision screening in preschoolers: the New South Wales Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening program

Vision assessment is an important component of preventive health in childhood. Prevalence estimates for visual disorders in Australian children suggest rates of about 2% for amblyopia (reduced visual acuity in one or both eyes with no pathological cause),1 up to 7.3% for strabismus, and between 1% and 14.7% for refractive error.2 Many of these disorders can only be diagnosed through a monocular visual acuity screen and cannot be identified by family history, vision surveillance or observation of the child’s behaviour or appearance alone. Optimal treatment outcomes for childhood vision disorders are achieved with early detection and treatment, preferably before school entry.3 Failure to detect and treat vision disorders during childhood may lead to permanent loss of vision.4

There is evidence that a visual acuity test at about 4 years of age is best practice for preventing and treating vision disorders.2,