Have you heard the buzz about blindfolded people doing the #BirdboxChallenge?
Netflix popular new thriller Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, has set records in its first week of release… and stirred up a trending new fad. The Bird Box challenge takes the main idea of Bird Box (characters in the film must wear a blindfold at all times to avoid facing the deadly consequences of seeing a lurking monster) and emulates it in daily life.
Since then, Netflix has warned fans about the risks of this dangerous new social media trend inspired by this movie. It’s funny to watch videos of blindfolded people stumbling and fumbling around, but it’s frightening to imagine the painful results if it goes too far.
It is also useful to imagine the real-life, permanent challenges faced by blind and vision-impaired children and adults every day. There are a staggering number of children in the world today – 19 million – who do not have to wear a blindfold to know what it means to not be able to see well (or to not be able to see at all). One in 20 children have serious eye conditions that can lead to permanent vision loss – conditions such as cataract, glaucoma, retinoblastoma, strabismus, retinopathy of prematurity and other serious diseases.
Children with real-life vision loss stumble on the playground, these children suffer in the classroom if they cannot see the board, these children cannot see clearly enough to see the leaves on trees or the hair on their arms… and they cannot clearly see their adoring mom and dad when they play peek-a-boo. These children do not wear a temporary blindfold – they become adults who must learn to overcome the challenges of vision impairment.
The good news is 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured, according to the World Health Organization. However, just like in Birdbox, dangers lurk quietly in the dark. The #1 cause of preventable vision loss in children is amblyopia (lazy-eye). All too often, amblyopia and other serious preventable eye problems are detected too late to treat the problem. Early detection and expert treatment is key.
“It is tragic to have children come in when the vision problem is detected too late and there is little we can do.” – Millicent Peterseim, MD, Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Storm Eye Institute, Charleston, SC
You can stop preventable vision loss with a simple vision screening. Experts recommend:
- Get vision screening starting at age 12 months, and repeat every 1-2 years.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends instrument-based vision screening starting at 12 months of age and routine chart-based testing when the child is able (which is usually around age 4 or 5 years.)
- Vision screening, before the child can read an eye chart, is as much a priority as checking height and weight, or discussing nutrition, oral health, safety and vaccinations.
Children’s Eye Foundation of AAPOS urges all parents of young children to replace the #BirdboxChallenge with #ScreenEyesEarlyChallenge. Together we can ensure no child is permanently “blindfolded” by preventable vision loss…and more delightful smiles when children see well. Watch this adorable video of a little boy putting on his glasses for the first time. It will make your day!
Being able to see well is life-changing. Children’s Eye Foundation of AAPOS is proud to work every day to help children to have good vision for life.