Sight impairment in pre-schoolers predicted to rise

The number of young children with visual impairment in the United States is set to rise 26% by 2060


A new study forecasts a jump in the number of US pre-schoolers with visual impairment.

The research, published in JAMA Ophthalmologypredicts a 26% rise in the prevalence of visual impairment among pre-schoolers by 2060.

Dr Rohit Varma, executive director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, highlighted to OT that research found 69% of the projected visual impairment would be caused by uncorrected refractive error, such as hyperopia and myopia.

“Given that much of the visual impairment is either preventable or correctable, it is imperative for us to provide interventions to reduce the burden of visual impairment and its lifelong impact on these children and to society,” he emphasised.

Dr Varma explained that the research supported comprehensive eye exams in preschool age children and follow up care.

These measures had the potential to have a prolonged impact on a child’s social and academic achievement, as well as their visual function, he elaborated.

“All eye care professionals should work together to reduce the burden of these conditions in this vulnerable population,” Dr Varma stressed.

The study found ethnic differences in the prevalence of visual impairment among preschoolers. Sight difficulties were predicted to be particularly high in Hispanic white children, who were estimated to make up 44% of all visually impaired American pre-schoolers by 2060. 

Dr Varma highlighted that longitudinal studies were needed to assess the long-term impact of visual impairment among preschool age children.