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Costs and effectiveness of two models of school-entry visual acuity screening in the UK

Horwood, A. ORCID:, Lysons, D., Sandford, V. and Richardson, G. (2021) Costs and effectiveness of two models of school-entry visual acuity screening in the UK. Strabismus, 29 (3). pp. 174-181. ISSN 0927-3972

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/09273972.2021.1948074


Background Cost effectiveness of different visual screening modalities cannot be calculated without long-term outcome data. This paper reports detailed outcomes from a gold-standard UK recommended orthoptist-delivered screening (ODS) at 4-5 years in school, compared to a neighboring school-nurse delivered screening (SNDS), both feeding into the same treatment pathway. The target condition was reduced visual acuity (VA) of worse than logMAR 0.2 in either eye. Methods Available records from screening databases and hospital records were analyzed, comparing the two services wherever possible. Results More screening data was available from the ODS. ODS:- 5706 screened, 3.5% referred. False positives 6.5%, PPV 91.4%, sensitivity 97.9%, specificity 99.8% for reduced VA. Cost per child with reduced vision detected £195.22, and per amblyope detected £683.28. The mean treatment cost per child with reduced VA was £331.68 and for amblyopia treatment was £458.65. SNDS:- 5630 screened and 3.8% referred (plus some referrals to local optometrists lost to follow up). False positives 34%, PPV 53.2%, sensitivity and specificity estimated as 89.3% and 98.67%. Costs to secondary services of false positives were 7 times greater. The cost per child with confirmed reduced vision seen at the hospital was 46% more; and per amblyope detected was 39% more. Outcomes for treatment post referral in both groups were similar and excellent. 86% of genuine referrals improved to within normal limits with glasses alone. Of 221 genuine referrals with final outcome data, all now have better than 0.2logMAR acuity in the better eye and only two (0.9%) have residual amblyopia in one eye worse than 0.4logMAR. 14-18% of children with reduced VA would have passed AAPOS photoscreening referral criteria. Conclusion An orthoptist-delivered single VA screen at 4-5 years is highly cost effective with good outcomes. The main contributing factors to success appear to be training and experience in accurate VA testing, the opportunity to re-screen equivocal results, and monitoring, audit and feedback of outcomes.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Development
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Health Innovation Partnership (HIP)
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Nutrition and Health
ID Code:97870
Publisher:Taylor and Francis


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