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May 2016

The US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation on Vision Screening in Older Adults: A Narrow View

Author Affiliations
  • 1American Academy of Ophthalmology, San Francisco, California
  • 2Wilmer Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(5):485-486. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.0222

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has concluded that “…the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for impaired visual acuity in older adults.”1 Its recommendations for primary care, including for adults 65 years and older without vision signs or symptoms, have major policy and coverage effects.

The USPSTF is congressionally authorized and supported by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The mandate charges the USPSTF with “improving the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services.”2 The USPSTF recommendations address only services offered in the primary care setting or services ordered or referred by a primary care clinician. Each task force is composed principally of primary care clinicians and health behavior specialists with expertise in preventive and evidence-based medicine. Therefore, this task force did not include optometrists or ophthalmologists. The USPSTF commissions an independent, rigorous review of clinical trials and relevant published data that focuses on benefits, harms, and net benefit in arriving at a draft recommendation. Public release of the draft is followed by a comment period and then issuance of a final recommendation.