Background: Screening for amblyogenic factors in infancy by pediatricians is unsatisfactory, as they hardly ever detect ametropia or microstrabismus. As photoscreening seems to be a helpful method to detect even small squint angles and refractive errors, we tested the MTI photoscreener for its sensitivity with respect to amblyogenic factors.
Patients and methods: One hundred and twelve children aged 6-48 months were first examined with the MTI photoscreener. Then each child underwent complete medical examination by an ophthalmologist and an orthoptist. The examination included the Hirschberg test (corneal reflex evaluation), the Brückner test (fundus red reflex), and, where possible, the Lang stereotest, the cover test and visual acuity assessment, as well as a motility test, biomicroscopy, ophthalmoscopy in mydriasis and refractometry in cycloplegia. Exclusion criteria were any organic pathological results, manifest strabismus, ametropia > or = 2 D and astigmatism > or = 1 D. An orthoptist, a pediatrician and two ophthalmologists independently evaluated the Polaroid pictures according to the criteria given in the handbook of the MTI photoscreener.
Results: For 10 children the evaluation with the MTI photoscreener was not possible despite the fact that photographs were retaken several times. Thirteen photographs showing obvious pathologic findings despite their poor quality were included. Eighty-three of the remaining 102 children failed the eye examination according to the above-mentioned criteria. The mean sensitivity of the MTI photoscreener was determined to be 82.8%. The ability to correctly identify the absence of any amblyogenic factors (specificity) was 61.8%.
Conclusions: Sensitivity was high when compared to the usually low detection rate during pediatric examinations. Due to the low specificity, effectiveness was poor. Therefore an ophthalmological examination should be included in the preventive screening during infancy and early childhood.