Eyes on Rubella: One Provider’s Insight

Children should receive annual vision exams beginning at 12 months.

As an eye doctor in primary care, I want you and your children to be healthy and see well. I prescribe glasses, contact lenses, and medicine to improve vision, but what happens when other aspects of health impact our eye sight? Sometimes a simple vaccine can save your vision. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the safety and validity of vaccinations. The best way to keep you and your children in good health is by staying up-to-date on your vaccines. By getting vaccinated, you are more likely to prevent disease. As an eye doctor, I know about vaccines because some of the preventative diseases they address, such as rubella, directly impact vision.

Rubella is the R in the MMR vaccine that protects you from three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. Rubella is the leading cause of blindness in developing nations. Since the MMR vaccine was introduced in 1969, rubella has dramatically decreased in the United States. Unvaccinated women who contract rubella during pregnancy infect their child with the virus 5-25% of the time. The virus contracted by the fetus is called congenital rubella and there is no existing treatment. Rubella interferes with the baby’s eye development, which can result in retinopathy, cataract, corneal clouding, microphthalmia, strabismus, and glaucoma. Ocular complications for those who contract rubella may include conjunctivitis, epithelial keratitis, retinitis, and multifocal chorioretinitis. Many of these conditions can result in blindness. The Center for Disease Control recommends children ages 6-12 months who reside in or are traveling to known outbreak areas receive the MMR vaccine. Doing so has the benefit of early protection during a period of increased transmission.

Southcentral Foundation is committed to supporting healthy future generations, ensuring your children are up to date on all their vaccinations is one way you can help us achieve this goal. Providers can administer vaccinations anytime of the year, but back-to-school season is a good reminder to get scheduled for annual well child checkups and vaccinations. It’s important to me that you and your children are safe, see clearly, be fully vaccinated, and protect yourselves from sight-threatening diseases. Let’s keep our eyes on rubella and rubella out of our eyes.

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by Dr. Angel M. Husher-Rodriguez

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