Posted July 14, 2017
Thousands of American preschool children struggle with vision problems that could impact their behavior and ability to learn. Researchers at the University of Southern California Roski Eye Institute report that about 175,000 children under age 5 have treatable vision issues. Unfortunately, many don’t receive the vision care they need.
Vision helps kids develop
Preschoolers are inquisitive. They need good vision to develop physically and mentally as they see pictures, read words in books and create artwork.
Blurred vision is a problem
Researchers found that nearly 70 percent of U.S. preschoolers have blurry vision because of nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). These conditions happen when the shape of the eye distorts light as it enters the cornea. Usually prescription glasses can fix the problem to help kids enjoy normal vision.
Vision exams are a necessity
Kids need eye exams to make sure their eyes develop correctly and to catch vision problems that may affect their ability to read and learn. The American Optometric Association recommends scheduling eye exams at 6 months, age 3 and before starting school.
Some children have obvious eye problems, such as lazy eye (amblyopia) or crossed eyes (strabismus). However, less than 30 percent of 4-year-old kids with lazy eye receive a comprehensive eye exam to identify and treat the problem. Often parents don’t schedule eye exams for their kids due to cost concerns or because they are not aware of treatment options.
Hispanic, black and multi-racial kids
Eye experts project an increase in untreated vision problems among Hispanic, black and multi-racial preschool children by 2060. Unfortunately, this means that poor vision could impact 44 percent of Hispanic and black kids and a staggering 130 percent of multi-racial kids. However, access to affordable vision care could change all that.
The value of vision insurance
Medical professionals report that families with vision insurance tend to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams for their preschool children. Many employers include vision insurance in employee benefits packages as a voluntary coverage option. Depending on the plan design, parents can have kids’ vision checked each year, and enjoy an eyewear benefit to help pay for prescription glasses.
Learn more about why kids need good vision health by watching this video.