Validity of the Red Reflex Exam in the Newborn Eye Screening Test Cohort

Cassie A. Ludwig, Natalia F. Callaway, Mark S. Blumenkranz, Douglas R. Fredrick, Darius M. Moshfeghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The validity of the red reflex exam has yet to be tested against new methods of wide-angle imaging that may improve early detection of neonatal ocular pathology. The authors aimed to determine the validity of the pediatrician’s red reflex exam using 130° wide-angle external and fundus digital imaging as a gold standard. PATIENTS AND METHODS: This was a prospective cohort study of 194 healthy, term newborns enrolled in the Newborn Eye Screening Test study at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital from July 25, 2013, to July 25, 2014. Red reflex screening was performed by a pediatrician in the newborn nursery and wide-angle fundus digital imaging was performed by a neonatal intensive care unit-certified nurse. The main outcome measure was the validity of the pediatrician’s red reflex exam (unweighted kappa [κ] statistic, sensitivity, specificity). RESULTS: Compared to no subjects with abnormal red reflex exams reported in the pediatrician’s notes, 49 subjects demonstrated one or multiple ocular abnormalities on 130° wide-angle fundus imaging (κ = 0.00). The pediatrician’s red reflex exam had a sensitivity of 0.0% (95% CI, 0.0%-7.3%) and specificity of 100.0% (95% CI, 97.5%-100.0%) for the detection of ocular abnormalities. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the ability of wide-angle fundus imaging to detect fundus abnormalities not otherwise identified by standard newborn red reflex screening prior to hospital discharge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalOphthalmic Surgery Lasers and Imaging Retina
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Ophthalmology


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