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Gayathri Srinivasan, OD, MS, Receives Joanne Angle Investigator Award from Prevent Blindness

Assistant Professor at NECO will use grant to research approaches for vision screening for children from birth to three

New England College of Optometry’s Gayathri Srinivasan, OD, MS, FAAO, was chosen as the 2015 recipient of the Joanne Angle Investigator Award from Prevent Blindness. Read more about the award announcement from Prevent Blindness.

The award supports public health research that relates to eye health and safety. Dr. Srinivasan was selected for her pilot study, “Approaches for identifying children birth to three years of age at risk of having vision problems - novel visual development assessment tool; behavioral screening; and photo screening.”

The grant award will allow Dr. Srinivasan to spend the next year investigating the accuracy of a newly developed vision assessment survey as well as examining current guidelines for screening recommendations for this age group. Dr. Srinivasan explains, “Vision screening in infants and toddlers are routinely performed in medical homes and early education settings. However, little is known about the efficacy of screening tools used in this population. This pilot study is designed to evaluate the efficacy of behavioral and instrument based vision screening as well as a novel technique for vision assessment.” Developing feasible screening tools for vision assessment in this population will do much to advance the core mission of Prevent Blindness - that of preventing blindness and preserving sight.

Currently, the efficacy of vision screening in children from birth to three years of age is not well studied. Although using developmental questionnaires to identify children with deficits in vision development has been a foundation of the successful vision screening program in Scandinavia for decades, using developmental assessment tools to identify children at risk of vision problems such as strabismus, amblyopia and other visual disorders has not been well established in the United States. Despite wide use of developmental questionnaires in the medical home and early education settings (specifically the Ages and Stages Questionnaire) the ability of these tools to identify children with vision related developmental deficits and directing them to comprehensive vision care appears to be lacking.

This study will evaluate the validity of a novel visual development/risk assessment questionnaire in detecting vision problems in children from birth to three years of age and evaluate the feasibility of performing behavioral vision screening and photo screening in this age group by non-eye care personnel. The results aim to help identify and develop feasible tools to provide vision screening in this population for clinicians in the medical homes and non-clinicians in early education settings to aid in the early detection and treatment of childhood visual disorders.

In addition to Dr. Srinivasan, the research study will involve colleagues at the New England College of Optometry and eye care providers and staff of the On-Sight Mobile Clinic, as well as partners from the Children’s Vision Massachusetts Coalition. Study program sites have been identified and coordinated through the LiveWell Springfield—KIDS Coalition’s early childhood vision program, EyeSEE (early Screening, Education, Exams). In addition, students from the nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and public health programs of the American International College will be part of the study team.