Background: The purpose of this study was to fill a significant void in the ophthalmic literature by performing a large scale, comprehensive, prospective study of the prevalence of vision disorders and ocular pathology in a clinical pediatric population using well-defined diagnostic criteria.
Methods: A prospective study was performed on 2,023 consecutive patients between the ages of 6 months and 18 years presenting for an initial comprehensive examination at the Eye Institute of The Pennsylvania College of Optometry. There were 373 subjects between 6 months and 5 years, 11 months of age, and 1,650 subjects between 6 years and 18 years of age.
Results: The most important finding from this study is that other than refractive anomalies, the most common conditions optometrists are likely to encounter in a pediatric population are binocular vision and accommodative disorders. The prevalence of accommodative and binocular (strabismic and non-strabismic) vision disorders is 9.7 times greater than the prevalence of ocular disease in children 6 months to 5 years of age, and 8.5 times greater than the prevalence of ocular disease in children 6 to 18 years of age.
Conclusions: The data from this study has great significance for clinicians, optometric educational institutions, health care planners, and administrators. This data suggests that other than refractive anomalies, the most prevalent conditions in the clinical pediatric population are binocular and accommodative disorders. Clinicians should use a minimum data base that includes assessments of accommodation and binocular vision that will allow them to detect conditions with the highest prevalence.