The assessment and management of strabismus and amblyopia: a national audit

Eye (Lond). 2002 Sep;16(5):522-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.eye.6700136.


Aims: To determine what systems are in place within ophthalmic services for the assessment and management of children suspected of having amblyopia and strabismus. To find out what methods are used for the assessment of these children.

Methods: A questionnaire-based study auditing 288 orthoptic departments in the UK.

Results: Responses were received from 75% orthoptic departments. Most hospitals employ more than one system for the assessment of strabismus and amblyopia, which is generally dependent on route of referral. These include 'orthoptic assessment without refraction' (66%), 'combined orthoptist and ophthalmologist assessment' (66%), while 22% have an entirely orthoptist/optometric system. Ophthalmologists are involved in the initial assessment in 145 units (67%), whereas some units involve an ophthalmologist only if response to treatment is poor (15%), or if surgery is required (6%). Fourteen per cent of units reviewed all children, with discharge criteria being based on normal visual acuity (52%), accurate visual acuity (39%) and a normal orthoptic assessment (42%). Seventy-six per cent of units review some children, commonly as a result of family history (55%), parental concern (43%), poor co-operation (30%) and young age (72%). In the absence of squint or amblyopia children are discharged at the first visit, in only 8% of units. There is considerable variation in the tests used to assess visual acuity. LogMAR-based tests (eg EDTRS) are not routinely used in 75% of units.

Conclusion: Different systems exist for the assessment and management of squint and amblyopia across the country. While much of this variation is to be expected given their possible aetiologies, some could be reduced to produce a more cohesive service. There is also considerable scope for rationalising the tests used to screen infants and children for amblyopia and strabismus.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Amblyopia / diagnosis*
  • Amblyopia / therapy
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Child Health Services / standards
  • Child, Preschool
  • Hospital Departments / organization & administration*
  • Hospital Departments / standards
  • Humans
  • Medical Audit*
  • Ophthalmology / methods
  • Ophthalmology / organization & administration
  • Optometry / methods
  • Optometry / organization & administration
  • Orthoptics / methods
  • Orthoptics / organization & administration
  • Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Strabismus / diagnosis*
  • Strabismus / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Vision Screening / methods
  • Vision Screening / standards*
  • Visual Acuity