Visual Impairment – A Growing Problem for Young Children?

According to a new report, visual impairment poses a growing risk to an unexpected demographic. This research was authored by a team from the University of Southern California’s (USC) Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute, and based its conclusions on data from two separate population-based studies. One of these sources was the Multi-ethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study (MEPEDS), which represents the largest study of childhood eye diseases, including myopia, hyperopia (farsightedness) and amblyopia (“lazy eye”). 

Using these two long-running reports, the authors determined the future growth of visual impairment among three to five year-olds in the United States. Over the period from 2015 to 2060, the authors made the following projections: 

  • Multiracial American children is predicted to experience 137 percent increase.
  • Hispanic white children are slated to account for 44 percent of absolute cases by the year 2060.
  • Conversely, White children’s share of cases is predicted to decline over this same period, falling to 21 percent.
  • By 2060, visual impairment cases involving preschool children will have increased by more than 25 percent.

Rohit Varma, the director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, stated “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.”

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