CHICAGO (March 1, 2011) –Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s oldest eye health and safety organization, commends the recent recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for vision screening of all children between the ages of 3 and 5 years.
As noted by the recent USPSTF report “Screening for Visual Impairment in Children Ages 1 to 5,” approximately 2-4 percent of preschool-aged children have amblyopia, an alteration in the visual neural pathway in the developing brain that can lead to permanent vision loss in the affected eye. Identification of vision impairment before school entry could help identify children who may benefit from early interventions to correct or to improve vision.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), impaired vision can affect a child’s cognitive, emotional, neurologic and physical development by potentially limiting the range of experiences and kinds of information to which the child is exposed. And yet only one in three children in America has received eye care services before the age of six.
“A professional eye examination is, without a doubt, the gold standard of eye care, and should always be encouraged” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “Yet vision screenings are an essential element of a strong public health approach to children’s vision care, facilitating the early identification of vision and eye problems and linkage to appropriate care. It is critically important that all children, regardless of financial resources or barriers to care, are able to obtain sight-saving services.”
To support the development of a public health infrastructure to promote and ensure a comprehensive, multi-tiered continuum of vision and eye health care for young children, Prevent Blindness America recently established the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, with support from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As part of its continued commitment to children’s vision health, in 2010, Prevent Blindness America released “Our Vision for Children’s Vision: A National Call to Action for the Advancement of Children’s Vision and Eye Health.” In collaboration with its volunteer committees consisting of leading optometrists, ophthalmologists, and distinguished medical and public health professionals, the platform provides a detailed strategy to help protect children’s sight by creating a framework which brings key stakeholder organizations and individuals together to make children’s vision health a national priority. The platform has six diverse planks including:
Professional Vision Care;
Vision Screening: A Common Approach and Understanding;
School Readiness and Vision;
Children’s Eye Safety;
Public Awareness and Understanding of Children’s Vision and Eye Health; and
Pediatric Vision and Eye Health Research.
“More than 100 years ago, our organization was founded to address unnecessary blindness and vision loss in children,” added Parry. “Today, we continue that mission by working to provide all children with the care they need to be successful in school as well as to enjoy a lifetime of healthy vision.”
For more information on children’s vision health or vision screenings, please visit preventblindness.org or call (800) 331-2020.
About Prevent Blindness America
Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research. These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public. Together with a network of affiliates, divisions and chapters, Prevent Blindness America is committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America. For more information, or to make a contribution to the sight-saving fund, call (800) 331-2020. Or, visit us on the Web at preventblindness.org or facebook.com/preventblindness.