In one of the largest studies of it’s kind, researchers have determined that more older children develop cross-eyed or lazy eye vision problems. It is important to identify vision problems because the inability to see can affect one’s ability to learn in school, and even prepare for college and life beyond school.
In a recent press release, researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) announced their findings. Researchers discovered that in both African American, and Hispanic, populations the incidence of vision problems was between 2.5 percent to 2.6 percent. As children aged, the rate of vision problems increased.
Researchers believe that this study will impact the development of health-care policies and vision screening programs in California. Prior to this research, little to no data existed on the presence of vision problems in infants and young children of the minority population.
Officially called strabismus (cross-eyed, or one eye looking out) or amblyopia (lazy eye), both conditions can be treated and both. Both conditions have the potential to interfere with vision enough to cause severe learning problems.
Typically strabismus or amblyopia are treated by prescribing glasses that contain prisms, by having the patient do a specific series of regular eye exercises, or by surgical intervention. Routine eye exams often detect either of these vision irregularities.
“What was most surprising about our findings was that the vast majority of children who we diagnosed with either strabismus or amblyopia had been previously undiagnosed and hadn’t received any care. Both of these disorders can be detected by age three, so this points to a crucial need for early screening and intervention programs that could prevent lifelong visual impairments,” said Rohit Varma, MD, a professor of ophthalmology and preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, and the director of the Ocular Epidemiology Center at USC’s Doheny Eye Institute.
About the study
This was the first study that looked specifically at African American and Hispanic youth. Participants lived in the Los Angeles community of Inglewood and were between six months to six years old.
Researchers will continue to provide vision screenings to children in Southern California’s Riverside County. After the screenings have been completed, researchers will analyze data for Asian American and non-Hispanic White youth from the Monterey Park area. This portion of the study will be completed by 2011.
At the end of the study, researchers will have provided screening for strabismus and amblyopia, and other vision problems to over 12,000 children.
The researchers did not find any difference in the rate of amblyopia or strabismus by gender.