Who Does Vision Loss Affect?

Nearly one out of every 1,000 children in the United States is affected by low vision. This means that more than 500,000 children in the U.S. have some type of vision impairment. About 58,000 of them are considered to be legally blind. Almost two thirds of children with vision impairment also have one or more other developmental disabilities – including cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, epilepsy, or hearing loss. Approximately one third of these children had weighed 5½ pounds or less at birth.

According to the National Eye Institute, vision disorders are the fourth most common type of disability in the United States and the most common disability among children. Breaking it down by specific disorder, two to five percent of children between the ages of three and five have amblyopia (commonly known as “lazy eye”), three to four percent have strabismus (crossed or misaligned eyes), and 10 to 15 percent have significant refractive error (inability to focus on an image correctly, as in far- and near-sightedness or astigmatism). These three conditions – amblyopia, strabismus, and significant refractive error — are the most common vision disorders of preschool children.

If these disorders are detected early, the chances for effective treatment are significantly increased. But the fact of the matter is that fewer than 15 percent of all preschool children receive an eye examination and fewer than 22 percent are given any kind of vision screening. That poses a potentially significant problem because vision disorders can have a serious impact on learning as well as on overall school performance. As experts explain, more than 80 percent of what a young child learns in school is taken in visually. It has been estimated that learning-related vision disorders affect approximately 20 percent of all school-aged children in the U.S. to some degree.

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Want to learn more about vision loss?

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

FamilyConnect (For Parents of Children with Visual Impairments)

Prevent Blindness America

The Association for Retinopathy of Prematurity and Related Diseases