Rotterdam AMBlyopia screening effectiveness study: Detection and causes of amblyopia in a large birth cohort
Purpose. The Dutch population-based child health monitoring program includes regular preverbal (age range, 1-24 months) and preschool (age range, 36-72 months) vision screening. This study is on the contribution of an organized vision screening program to the detection of amblyopia. Methods. A 7-year birth cohort study of 4624 children was started in 1996/1997 in Rotterdam. Vision screening data were obtained from the child screening centers. Treating orthoptists working at the regional ophthalmology departments provided information about diagnosis and treatment. The diagnosis was reviewed by two experts. The parents provided additional information on their child's eye history through written questionnaires and telephone interviews. At age 7 years, the children underwent a final examination by the study orthoptists. Results. Of the 3897 children still living in Rotterdam by 2004, 2964 (76.1%) underwent the final examination. Amblyopia was diagnosed in 100 (3.4%) of these (95% CI, 2.7-4.0). At age 7, 23% had visual acuity >0.3 logMAR. Amblyopia was caused by refractive error (n = 42), strabismus (n = 19), combined-mechanism (n = 30), deprivation (n = 7), or unknown (n = 2). Eighty-three amblyopia cases had been detected before age 7. Amblyopia detection followed positive results in vision screening in 56 children, either preverbal (n = 15) or preschool (n = 41). Twenty-six other amblyopes were self-referred (n = 12, before a first positive screening test), especially strabismic or combined-mechanism amblyopia; data were uncertain for one other positively screened amblyopic child. Amblyopia remained undetected until age 7 due to unsuccessful referral (n = 4, three with visual acuity >0.3 logMAR at age 7) or false-negative screening (n = 13).Conclusions. Most cases of amblyopia were detected by vision screening with visual acuity measurement. Preverbal screening contributed little to the detection of refractive amblyopia.