VSP Vision Care Study: Nearly 8 Out of 10 Kids Under Five Have Never Had an Eye Exam

Thursday, September 4, 2008 General News
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RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif., Sept. 3 A recent nationwide surveyof nearly 4,000 Americans by VSP(R) Vision Care revealed that more thanthree-quarters (76 percent) of children under the age of five have never had acomprehensive eye exam.

"While most parents probably assume that vision screenings provided bypediatricians and school nurses are enough, those screenings are nowhere nearas exhaustive as the comprehensive eye exams that optometrists andophthalmologists provide," said James Short, OD, chair of VSP Vision Care'sboard of directors. "Before children enter school, an eye doctor shouldexamine the eyes for signs of astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness andalso examine the structure of the eye for tell-tale signs of serious diseasesaffecting more American kids each year, including diabetes, hypertension andhigh cholesterol."

Beyond getting children professional eye exams before they enterkindergarten, parents can also help preserve their kids' vision for years tocome with a few other preventative measures. The VSP Consumer Eyecare andEyewear Survey revealed that most adults seem to give better protection totheir eyes than their children's eyes. While 68 percent of adults wearsunglasses outdoors, less than 30 percent of children wear sunglassesoutdoors.

"While most people are becoming quite vigilant about using sunscreen toprotect their skin, most parents may not realize that the sun's harmful rayscan also severely damage their children's eyes," said Short. "Long-termeffects of sun-damage to the eye include: macular degeneration -- the leadingcause of blindness for Americans over 60 years old; cataracts, or the cloudingof the eye's natural lens; and pterygium, a growth on the eye that can lead toimpaired vision."

But, the sun should not be a parent's only vision concern for children.Two-thirds (67 percent) of America's six- to 11-year-olds and almostthree-quarters (73 percent) of 12- to 17-year olds play video games, watch TVor use computers for an average (combined school and home) of four or morehours each day. "With children spending more time in front of some sort ofscreen everyday, Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a serious vision issue thatcan cause blurred vision, eyestrain, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain,will become more prevalent in our children," said Dr. Christopher Clark, a VSPoptometrist based in Seattle, Wash.

VSP Vision Care recommends the following preventative measures to keep thewhole family's eyes healthy:

About the Survey

The VSP Consumer Eyecare and Eyewear Survey was fielded in July 2008 byVSP Vision Care. There were 3,930 U.S. residents age 18 and older whoparticipated.

About the VSP Family of Companies

VSP(R)'s family of companies includes the largest not-for-profit visionbenefits and services company in the United States with 55 million members;VSP Labs, industry leaders in new technologies, production processes, serviceand logistics; Marchon(R) Eyewear Inc., one of the world's largestmanufacturers, designers and distributors of quality fashion andtechnologically-advanced eyewear and sunwear, distributing its products tomore than 100,000 customer locations in more than 100 countries;Eyefinity(R)/Officemate(R) which offer innovative solutions and the premiermanagement software and technology to improve overall practice management andthe patient experience.

Since 1997, VSP has provided more than 470,000 low-income, uninsuredchildren with free eyecare. Through relationships with the American DiabetesAssociation, Prevent Blindness America and the Center for HealthTransformation, VSP promotes the importance of annual eye exams formaintaining eye health and overall wellness.-- To ensure that your child is receiving proper eye exams: -- Start early: A child's first eye exam should take place at 6 months of age, and visit their eye

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