Vision Screening in Children: The New South Wales Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening Program.

Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Asia Pac J Ophthalmol (Phila), 2022, 11, (5), pp. 425-433
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
PURPOSE: The aim was to investigate universality of access, screening rate, and outcomes from the New South Wales (NSW) Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening (StEPS) over the period of 2009 to 2016. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, observational study. METHODS: The StEPS program provides vision screening to 4-year-old children residing in NSW and is administered within Local Health Districts (LHDs). Visual acuity (VA) was examined by trained lay and nurse screeners using HOTV logMAR. Children who had VA <6/9-2 were referred to local practitioners while those with VA <6/18 were referred to public hospital pediatric ophthalmic outpatient clinics where available. Activity data were collected by NSW Health and screening rates determined from population projections of 4-year-olds per LHD based on adjusted 2014 Census data. To determine factors impacting screening and referral rates, a random effects panel analysis was undertaken. RESULTS: A total of 719,686 (96.4%) NSW 4-year-old children were offered StEPS vision screening between 2009 and 2016, 84% accepted and 564,825 children (75.6%) were screened. The screening rate increased from 67.3% in 2009 to 74.5% in 2016, with an 80% target reached for 3 consecutive years from 2013 to 2015. Of those screened, 19.2% were referred to an eye health professional or advised to have a vision retest in 12 months. This referral rate remained steady over the period studied, with little variation between metropolitan, and rural and regional LHDs. CONCLUSIONS: StEPS is an ideal service model for preschool vision screening providing coverage that is comparable to school-based screening programs and at an age likely to facilitate optimal treatment outcomes.
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