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Professional bodies urge caution when using apps to test children’s vision

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the British & Irish Orthoptic Society encourage clinicians to use evidence-based technology

child on smart phone
Clinicians are being urged to carefully assess technology that they use to test children’s vision as more remote care is offered in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the British & Irish Orthoptic Society have released advice on the use of vision testing apps for children during the pandemic lockdown and recovery.

Chair of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ paediatric sub-committee, Susmito Biswas, told OT that use of novel technology should be “very carefully” assessed, with parents advised of the potential risks and benefits.

“If there is any significant doubt about the reliability of test results, then a face to face consultation may be required,” he emphasised.

The consultant paediatric ophthalmologist highlighted that parents are naturally concerned about their children’s vision during a period of limited access to services.

“Whilst access to hospital eye units and to paediatric ophthalmologists and orthoptists during COVID-19 is restricted, it can be tempting for parents and patient groups acting on behalf of parents, to campaign for the use of new technology to diagnose conditions, like amblyopia,” he noted.

The latest advice recommends that ophthalmology and orthoptic departments undertake an appropriate risk assessment before apps are implemented.

The use of apps for testing vision should be under the guidance of a trained healthcare professional and parents should be advised that the apps have not yet been proven to be as effective as face-to-face assessments.