Comparison of monocular autorefraction to comprehensive eye examinations in preschool-aged and younger children

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 May;159(5):435-9. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.159.5.435.


Background: Monocular autorefraction is a newly available technology for vision screening that has been advocated to test young children. Such devices automatically determine the refractive state of each eye, but cannot directly detect amblyopia or strabismus.

Objective: To compare the results of a commercially available monocular autorefractor (SureSight; Welch Allyn Medical Products, Skaneateles Falls, NY) with findings from a comprehensive eye examination for significant refractive error, strabismus, and amblyopia.

Methods: Children 5 years and younger who were new patients attending a pediatric ophthalmology clinic were tested with the monocular autorefractor without dilation and underwent a comprehensive eye examination that included dilation.

Main outcome measures: The proportion of children who could be tested and the sensitivity and specificity of the screening.

Results: Of the 170 children enrolled (age, <3 years, n = 80; age range, 3-5 years, n = 90), 36% had abnormal eye examination findings. Most (84%) children 3 years or older could be tested compared with 49% of the children younger than 3 years (P<.001). Among those who were testable, for children younger than 3 years the sensitivity was 80% (95% confidence interval [CI], 44%-97%) and the specificity was 41% (95% CI, 24%-61%). For children aged 3 to 5 years, the sensitivity was 88% (95% CI, 68%-97%) and the specificity was 58% (95% CI, 43%-71%).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that screening children aged 3 to 5 years with monocular autorefraction would identify most cases of visual impairment but would be associated with many false-positive results. For children younger than 3 years, testability was low and results were nonspecific.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Amblyopia / complications
  • Amblyopia / diagnosis*
  • Amblyopia / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Refractive Errors / diagnosis*
  • Refractive Errors / epidemiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Strabismus / complications
  • Strabismus / diagnosis*
  • Strabismus / epidemiology
  • Vision Screening / methods*