How common is myopia (nearsightedness) ? The numbers may shock you. By 2050, nearly half of the world’s population—about 5 billion people—will be myopic.
How can you help you child from becoming myopic?
What Is Myopia?
Myopia occurs when the eye elongates (grows longer). Light rays then focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it. Things far away start to look blurry. Things at near are still clear. That is why it is called NEAR-sightedness.
Myopia tends to develop during childhood, when the eyeballs rapidly grow (along with the rest of the body), mainly between the ages of 8-18. It can occur in adults as well, as people now spend more and more time on computer and other digital devices.
It can worsen slowly or quickly, but it is not only that it is inconvenient. It is much more serious than that. People with progressive myopia are more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life. These conditions can lead to permanent loss of vision and even blindness. The idea is, what can we do now, to prevent that?
How To Know Whether Your Child Is Myopic
Below are some telltale signs to watch for:
- Blurred distance vision - Objects in the distance are blurred; kids may complain that they can't see the board
- Headaches - When myopia isn't corrected, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
- Head tilting or squinting - If your child squints or tilts his or her head while watching TV, for example, it may be a symptom of myopia.
- Looking at objects too closely - If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or squinting as they try to see the writing on the board, it may indicate myopia.
What should a parent do?
- The firs thing is to bring your child in early for an eye examination in the same way you bring your child to the pediatrician for a well baby visit or bring your child to a Pediatric Dentist, for example.
- The first eye exam should be at age 1, and then at age 3. The next visit should be at age 5, and then every year a child is in school. The visual system is the most important system to bring in information from the world around us. if a child has difficulty with the visual system, it can make reading and learning much more difficult.
What Parents Can Do to Slow Their Child’s Myopia Progression
- Teach the 20-20-20 rule: During screen time, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object across the room or out the window about 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
- Encourage your child to go outdoors for at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Studies show that playing outdoors reduces the risk of developing myopia and slows its progression.
- Limit the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen, reading and doing close work such as homework.
- When your child uses a digital screen, make sure that it isn’t too close to the face.
How We Can Help
We, at Family Eye Care offer treatment methods known as myopia control or myopia management. These include
- bifocal eyeglasses,
- Vision Therapy,
- Syntonic Phototherapy
- Special multifocal soft contact lenses, and
- Special concentrations of Atropine.
Regular eyeglasses and contact lenses don't prevent its progression but do correct myopia so the child can see and function normally.
Some offices and doctors may offer some of these. We offer all of these so we can find the problem and create a program that is specific for you.
If your child shows signs of myopia, schedule a Comprehensive Eye Examination with our doctors at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge as soon as possible.
How is myopia diagnosed?
Our examinations are directed specifically for children. In our office children do not need to know their letters to have an examination. An integral part of our examination is also to make sure your child's eyes are healthy and normal. Some of the tests are objective (done by the doctor) and some are subjective (answers by the child) when applicable.
Can myopia lead to blindness?
High myopia may increase your child's risk of developing more serious eye conditions later in life, such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma. Left untreated, high myopia complications can sometimes lead to blindness—which is why a comprehensive eye examination every year is very important.