A September 2019 Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) survey of more than 4,000 parents in the United States shows that their children’s eye care is not a top priority for most.

Only 57% of respondents report making regular eye doctor appointments, which they ranked as less important than dentist and pediatrician visits. Even fewer (27%) said they actually took their child to an optometrist in the past year. This may be due to common misconceptions, according to a GMAC press release. Of the surveyed parents, 88% felt that comprehensive exams aren’t needed until children are school-aged and 48% believe pediatricians can conduct them. However, eye care specialists should be seeing children as young as six months old to avoid the risk of vision problems later in life, GMAC noted in the press release.

These numbers may also be on the lower side because parents  tend to wait until their child shows signs of visual difficulty. These can include not being able to see the whiteboard in school (66%), squinting more than normal (62%) and holding materials far away (52%).

“We know parents will do just about anything to help their kids succeed, and healthy vision plays a big role in that, whether a child is able to express it to their parents or not,” said Matt Oerding, board chairman of GMAC, in the release. “Knowing your children’s potential risk of myopia and taking action before it’s too late can benefit their academic and athletic performance, personal growth and overall health.”

Common misconceptions regarding pediatric eye care.
Common misconceptions regarding pediatric eye care. Click image to enlarge

Global Myopia Awareness Coalition. New survey reveals vision is deprioritized by parents in children’s overall health. December 3, 2019.