The news has been filled with reports about recent outbreaks of the measles in the United States, with many of these concentrated in cities and suburban neighborhoods within California. Unfortunately, measles outbreaks are only starting to spread, despite severe warnings from doctors and medical professionals about the fatal consequences of foregoing vaccinations in children. There have been reported cases in Washington, D.C., many of which were the direct result of not being immunized against the disease.
Now Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths of NewView Eye Center in Reston, Virginia (also serving the greater Washington, D.C. area) is adding her voice to these warnings, as research has that measles can cause long-term vision problems, including vision loss and even blindness.
What’s worse, many of these vision problems are permanent. This is in addition to the chances that one or two of every 1,000 children who get the measles will die from it. A German child has already succumbed to the disease, making this a new health threat that could spell danger for your child’s vision.
So why does measles cause vision problems in children, even if that child “gets over” the measles?
According to Dr. Griffiths, measles can cause severe brain swelling (one of the many reasons why it can be fatal) and irritation to the cornea of the eye. When these symptoms occur, the cornea can become inflamed – as a result, the cornea can break down and cause scarring. In some cases, the cornea’s degeneration causes extreme vision loss.
Measles can even damage or destroy cells in the retina, which can cause irreversible blindness.
It’s not rare for the measles to cause blindness; a survey published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that measles caused blindness in 60,000 cases each year. In many of these cases, poor nutrition contributed to vision loss; however, even the healthiest diet in the world can’t stop measles from attacking a child’s vision.
To protect your child’s vision from measles, it’s important to get your child – and your family – vaccinated. Should you see the warning signs of vision problems wit your child – and a telltale skin rash accompanies it – take your child to the emergency room right away.