Vision care is lacking for children today

September 1, 2009

Healthy vision is vital for success in life and should begin with regular vision screenings during childhood, but the level of inadequate vision care for children in the United States is significant, however. The author addresses ways to address this issue to positively affect high school graduation rates, social and emotional problems, juvenile delinquency, adult literacy problems, incarcerations, and workforce quality and productivity.

Key Points

Most of us assume that schools are addressing the vision problems of children by performing vision screenings. Research has shown, however, that only 10% of children aged 9 to 15 years who needed eyeglasses actually had them.

When schools perform vision screenings, typically only distance vision is tested. Most classroom activities-such as reading, writing, and computer work-involve the use of near vision, however.

Societal implications

How do these facts affect society? Children with undiagnosed and untreated vision problems grow up to become adults with undiagnosed and untreated vision problems.

The failure to detect and treat vision disorders in children affects, among other things, issues such as childhood development, learning performance, self-esteem, social-emotional behavior, academic achievement, high school dropout rates, and juvenile delinquency. From the standpoint of society in general, the failure to detect and treat children's vision disorders affects rates of adult criminality, literacy, and labor productivity.

Looking at the problem of undiagnosed and untreated children's vision disorders strictly from the standpoint of dollars and cents, a clearer picture of the costs emerges:

Can there be any doubt that children must have the vision care and vision skills required to perform successfully in the school and workplace environments?

Possible solutions

Steps to success to address the present situation:

Joel N. Zaba, MA, OD, is a practitioner, researcher, lecturer, and the author of numerous research articles relating vision to child and adult learning problems, literacy problems, school performance, and social-emotional problems. Readers may contact Dr. Zaba at 757/497-9575 or joelzaba@cox.net
. Support for Dr. Zaba's project was made possible by the Essilor Vision Foundation.