Vision problems occur at higher rates in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than in the general population. Some professional organizations recommend that children with neurodevelopmental disorders need comprehensive assessment by eye care professionals rather than vision screening.
Data from the 2011 to 2012 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) were accessed. Logistic regression was used to evaluate differences between vision screening rates in eye care professionals' offices and other screening locations among children with and without ASD.
Overall, 82.21% (95% confidence interval [CI], 78.35 to 86.06%) of children with ASD were reported to have had a vision screening as defined by the NSCH criteria. Among children younger than 5 years with ASD, 8.87% (95% CI, 1.27 to 16.5%) had a vision screening at a pediatrician's office, 41.1% (95% CI, 20.54 to 61.70%)
were screened at school, and 37.62% (95% CI, 9.80 to 55.45%) were examined by an eye care professionals. Among children with ASD older than 5 years, 24.84% (95% CI, 18.42 to 31.26%) were screened at school, 22.24% (95% CI, 17.26 to 27.21%) were screened at the pediatricians' office, and 50.15% (95% CI, 44.22 to 56.08%) were examined by eye care professionals. Based on estimates from NSCH, no children in the U.S. population younger than 5 years with ASD screened in a pediatrician's office were also seen by an eye care provider.
If the public health goal is to have all children with ASD assessed in an eye care professional's office, data from the NSCH indicate that we as a nation are falling far short of that target.