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New Research Study Evaluating Strabismus Detection By Non-Health Care Professionals

A study by three NECO-affiliated researchers, Dr. Kimberly Chan of Boston Children’s Hospital and Drs. Li Deng and Erik Weissberg of the New England College of Optometry, was recently published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The purpose of the research was to examine the impact that ethnicity may have on the magnitude of horizontal strabismus that becomes detectable to lay observers. Photomanipulation was used to create an ethnically diverse set of simulated strabismus images.  The image set was then shown to lay observers who were asked to judge whether or not strabismus was present. The results revealed significant differences in the detection of esotropia and exotropia, as well as between ethnicities.  Notably, esotropia was detectable in smaller magnitudes than exotropia in Asians, but the opposite was found in white and black models. 

The study notes the critical role that eye contact plays in daily life and the psychosocial implications of ocular misalignment on an individual’s social interactions and self-esteem. In seeking to examine the ease of detection of visibly detectable strabismus, the authors’ analysis provides insight into ethnicity-based differences of detection and offers suggestions for future studies. Erik Weissberg, OD, notes, “The work is impactful because it is the first investigation that specifically considers the impact of ethnicity on the detectability of strabismus and provides evidence for clinicians that can be used to guide the management of patients with social concerns about their strabismus.”