US study finds children with autism less likely to receive vision screening

Only four in 10 children with autism received screening, compared to six in 10 children without autism

SP autism
Pixabay/Esi Grünhagen
New research has revealed disparities in the proportion of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who receive vision screening in the US.

The study, which was published in Pediatrics, involved analysis of 63,829 ‘well-child visits.’ The children were aged between three and five, with the visits carried out between January 2016 and December 2019 in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Researchers found that 37% of children with ASD received vision screening as part of the visit, compared to 60% of children without ASD.

The scientists also found that the disparities were highest among black children with ASD. Among this cohort, only 28% received vision screening.

Senior study author, Dr Brittany Perry, of Nemours Swank Autism Center, shared that she undertook the research after observing that many patients attending appointments had never received vision screening.

“I wanted to study whether this might be a broader disparity – whether kids with autism receive vision screening less often than other kids,” she said.

The study authors highlighted that photoscreening – where a specialised camera or video system is used to capture images of a child’s eyes – can be helpful for children with ASD as they cannot always understand or respond to instructions in a conventional visual acuity test.

“Increased use of photoscreening may prove to be a great tool for reducing disparities and increasing vision screening in more vulnerable populations with autism,” Perry said.