Childhood Vision Problems – Are They Becoming More Common?

When it comes to childhood health problems, many people tend to think of allergies or rising obesity rates. And while these issues are certainly important, evidence suggests that young Americans eyesight will likewise deteriorate over the coming decades.

A Sorry Sight

Over the next 45 years, an astounding 220,000 children will experience some form of visual impairment. Such was the opinion of the study released by the University of Southern California’s Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute. The USC
researchers based their conclusions on data gleaned from two sources, one of which was MEPEDS, the largest population-based study devoted to childhood eye diseases in the United States.

Listed below are the main finding of the USC researchers:
• From 2015 to 2060, the greatest proportional increase in visual impairment cases will affect multiracial American children. Specifically, this group will experience a 137% spike of such problems.
• Over the same timeframe, Hispanic white children will account for an estimated 44% of visual impairment cases. If this estimate holds, Hispanic white children will “remain the largest demographic group in terms of the absolute numbers of cases.”
• California, Texas and Florida will have the greatest numbers of children suffering from early visual impairment.

The director of the Roski Eye Institute, Rohit Varma, stated in a university press release that “This research is a bellwether that visual impairment in young children can be prevented or treated with low-cost solutions if we intervene at an early age. If we don’t, the long-term effects of impaired vision at early childhood that can adversely impact academic and social achievements will put our future generations at a distinct disadvantage. This is a population health transformation imperative.”
The journal JAMA Ophthalmology published the USC study in June 2017 issue.

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