Preschoolers with vision problems to jump by 26% in 3 decades says study

Kid with glasses
FILE

An eye opening new study warns of a spike in visual impairment in preschool age kids. It predicts eyesight problems for children ages three to five will increase by 26 percent in the decades to come. The research hits home that parents need to take steps now to prevent vision issues from an early age.

3-year-old Cameron McSwain doesn’t know how important outside light exposure is to his vision. But his Daddy is trying to make sure what happened to his older sister, doesn’t happen to him.

“She’s 7 years old and already gotta wear glasses, about blind in one eye and I don’t know why,” said Daniel McSwain.

The causes of early vision problems vary.

But the new study by the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute published in JAMA Ophthalmology finds 220,000 preschool children over the next three decades will suffer from vision impairment.

Dr. Justine O’Dell, an Optometrist with Spartanburg Vision says she’s seen an increase in children needing glasses at a younger age.

“In the study the importance of it is children should be spending more time outside from the benefits of UV and how that affects the eye growth. But also less time on electronic devices and things that are upclose,” she said.

Cameron’s Dad says he tries to limit screen time, but he didn’t know the latest recommendations about how often young kids should see the eye doctor: Once before age 1, then again at age 3, and right before kindergarten.

By the way, the doctor said not only is she seeing more near-sidedness in young kids, but also dry eye, from looking at all those screens.

Spartanburg Vision is one of many offices that participates in a free program called Infantsee. Babies before age one can get a free visit to the eye doctor for their first checkup.

“Kids don’t usually complain about having poor vision because they don’t know what’s normal,” said Dr. O’Dell.

Here’s why parents really need to take this seriously. 80% of a child’s learning is through the visual system, so if that’s impaired it can really affect their development.

The study is helping to give parents a better vision of what they can to help their kids see all the world has to offer.

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