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Red Reflex Vision Exam Should Be Given to All Newborns, Report Recommends

Saturday, November 7, 2009 General News J E 4
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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 6 With the number of premature births and medically fragile infants now increasing in the U.S., a basic eye exam, including a red reflex test, should be given to all children shortly after birth, reports Angela Buffenn, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Orbit and Eye Movement Institute at The Vision Center of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

"Advances in medicine have enabled many medically fragile infants to survive. Unfortunately, many of them grow up with compromised visual systems. With a basic eye exam soon after birth, the visual problems of these children can be identified and treated in a timely manner. Unfortunately, studies show that some 75 percent of all children under five in the U.S. have never had a comprehensive eye exam," Dr. Buffenn notes.

Dr. Buffenn and a colleague, Diana Dennis, M.A. of the Therapeutic Living Center for the Blind, reported on the problem of inadequate childhood vision screenings in the Fall 2009 issue of Pediatric News, a publication of California Chapter 2 of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The red reflex test involves looking at the infant's eyes through an ophthalmoscope in a dimly lit room to see if there are any abnormalities in the back of the eye or white spots in the eyeball. The test is used to screen for abnormalities in the eye itself as well as ocular misalignment. If the red reflex is found to be abnormal, the child should be examined by a pediatric ophthalmologist in order to test for strabismus (crossed eyes), cataracts, glaucoma, retinoblastoma, retinal abnormalities, and high refractive errors.

Oftentimes, the test is first administered by a pediatrician or family physician. The red reflex test has been endorsed as an important part of a well child visit by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

"Too often we see children with developmental delay whose visual system has not been properly evaluated. Sometimes, parents also think that vision loss is less important than treating the seizure disorder or developmental disability, when the truth is we can address both at the same time," said Dr. Buffenn.

The Vision Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is an international referral center known for its family friendly environment of children afflicted with all forms of eye disease and provides a full range of inpatient and outpatient services. It is the largest pediatric ophthalmology program in the nation with multiple subspecialty programs that are considered to be among today's finest resources for diagnosis, treatment and research.

Founded in 1901, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles has been treating the most seriously ill and injured children in Los Angeles for more than a century, and it is acknowledged throughout the United States and around the world for its leadership in pediatric and adolescent health. Childrens Hospital is one of America's premier teaching hospitals, affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932. The Saban Research Institute of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is among the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States.

Since 1990, U.S. News & World Report and its panel of board-certified pediatricians have named Childrens Hospital Los Angeles one of the top pediatric facilities in the nation. Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is one of only 10 children's hospitals in the nation - and the only children's hospital on the West Coast - ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and named to the magazine's "Honor Roll" of children's hospitals.

For more information, see www.TheVisionCenterAtCHLA.org.

Provided by Newswise, online resource for knowledge-based news at www.newswise.com

Media Contacts: Amanda Hedlund The Vision Center at CHLA 323-361-7691 ahedlund@chla.usc.edu James Harris Westside Public Relations 310-398-5565 jharris@westsidepr.com

SOURCE Children's Hospital Los Angeles
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