CLEVELAND CLINIC NEWS NETWORK - Recent research shows the number of preschoolers with vision problems is expected to rise by 26 percent by the year 2060.
According to Allison Babiuch, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, it’s important to act if you notice your child can’t see well, because when eyesight is corrected with glasses at a young age, more serious vision and learning problems can be avoided.
“If you treat it at a younger age, then you can avoid having amblyopia, or a lazy eye, and most people think of amblyopia as just having it of one eye and maybe that eye wandering or drifting, but you can actually have amblyopia of both eyes,” said Dr. Babiuch. “That’s where you didn’t develop the normal vision system because you couldn’t see well from a young age.”
Dr. Babiuch did not take part in the study, but said it’s important for children to have good vision because it stimulates development of brain cells and is necessary to learn how to read.
She said eyesight is easier to correct when young and harder to treat if caught later in childhood.
If eyesight is poor and not treated, a child may develop a lazy eye and, in extreme cases, experience permanent vision loss.
Dr. Babiuch said signs that a young child might have poor eyesight include squinting, closing one eye to see better and constant eye rubbing.
Visual impairment runs in families, so if other family members had glasses at a young age, it’s important to be on the lookout for vision problems in young children.
Current recommendations call for vision to be checked at least once between the ages of 3-5.
Dr. Babiuch recommends parents ask their child’s school or pediatrician whether they’ve had their vision screened. If a problem is detected, parents should have their child to see an eye doctor for a full eye exam.
“We do want kids to get screened appropriately through the schools and through their pediatrician and if they identify a problem then to come and see us and try to get it addressed sooner rather than later,” said Dr. Babiuch.
Complete results of the study can be found in Jama Opthalmology.