Factors associated with delay in diagnosis of childhood amblyopia

L. R. Campbell, E. Charney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The prevention of permanent visual impairment from amblyopia is an important goal of pediatric vision screening. Unfortunately, many cases of amblyopia are not diagnosed until the child is too old to benefit maximally from treatment. A review of patient records from the practice of a private pediatric ophthalmologist confirmed that late detection is a frequent occurrence among children with amblyopia who have had good access to health care. A case-control study was then used to identify factors associated with delayed diagnosis, in which children with an adverse outcome (diagnosed at or after 5 years of age) were compared with those with an optimal outcome (diagnosed before 5 years of age). The chart review identified 161 children with amblyopia who participated in this study; 75 had late diagnoses (case patients) and 86 served as control patients. Children with early diagnoses more often had the following characteristics: a positive family history of strabismus, greater degrees of strabismus (when strabismus was present), higher maternal educational level, greater parental suspicion that an eye problem existed, and an increased chance that the parents requested the eye examination that led to the diagnosis. The parents of children with late diagnoses expressed less concern over the seriousness of amblyopia but were more likely to report that their children had suffered adverse consequences of amblyopia. When diagnosed early, amblyopia was more often detected by the child's primary health care provider. Physicians of the children with early diagnoses more often reported compliance with both the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for vision screening in infancy and referral for vision problems. Late detection of amblyopia appears to be a multifactorial problem involving characteristics of the child's visual problem, the family, and the medical system. Consideration of these factors should help to improve early identification of childhood amblyopia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-185
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991


  • amblyopia
  • vision screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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