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New apps to test children’s eyesight need robust assessment

9 June 2020

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the British & Irish Orthoptic Society have released rapid advice regarding the use of vision testing apps for children during the pandemic lockdown and recovery of services.  During this time, the hospital eye service has severely limited capacity and has put in measures to reduce exposure of patients to the risk of catching COVID-19.

These measures include the expanded use of technology such as video-consultations. However, such new technology does not always allow for the accurate testing of vision and although new apps are in trial, to date, there is not a full evidence base for their use in all age groups.

Clinicians are practising in less than ideal circumstances currently and face making the choice between using an untested app and not being able to check the vision of children at all.

Susmito Biswas, consultant paediatric ophthalmologist and Chair of the RCOphth Paediatric Sub-Committee said, ‘Parents and guardians are naturally concerned about the vision of their children.  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.

I strongly recommend that the use of novel technology is very carefully assessed and parents advised appropriately of the potential risks and benefits. If there is any significant doubt about the reliability of test result then a face to face consultation may be required.’

Read the full Telemedicine for Paediatric Services Rapid Advice FINAL 090620.