Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, is a prevalent vision condition in which individuals struggle to see faraway objects clearly. This refractive error occurs due to an elongation of the eyeball or an overly curved cornea, causing light rays to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. As a result, distant images appear blurry.
Among children, myopia has been on the rise in recent years. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1.89 billion people worldwide are affected by myopia, and this number is expected to increase to 2.56 billion by 2020. In the United States alone, nearly 42% of the population is myopic. Alarmingly, myopia in children is becoming more common, with an estimated 34% of American children aged 12-17 being affected.
Early detection of myopia is crucial, as it allows for proper myopia management and the implementation of myopia treatments to slow down its progression. Failure to address this condition can lead to more severe vision problems in adulthood, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment.
Recognizing the symptoms of myopia in children is essential for timely diagnosis and treatment. Common indicators of myopia in children include:
A child may squint to see distant objects more clearly. The narrowing of the eye opening helps focus light on the retina, resulting in a temporary improvement in vision.
Objects too Close to the Face
Children with myopia may sit closer to the television or hold their devices very close to their faces to see the screen more clearly. This can also result in eye strain and discomfort.
Difficulty in Reading the Board at School
If a child is struggling to see the board clearly and often asks for the teacher's assistance to read what is written, it could be a sign of myopia.
Myopia can cause children to experience headaches due to the constant strain on their eyes.
Rubbing the Eyes Frequently
Children with myopia may rub their eyes often to relieve the discomfort caused by eye strain. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, it is essential to consult an eye care professional for a comprehensive eye examination and appropriate myopia treatments.
Progressive myopia is a form of nearsightedness that worsens over time. It typically begins in childhood and continues to progress throughout adolescence. The exact cause of progressive myopia is not well understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some potential causes of progressive myopia include:
Genetics: A family history of myopia increases the likelihood of a child developing the condition. Research has shown that children with one myopic parent are three times more likely to develop myopia, while those with two myopic parents are six times more likely.
Increased screen time: Prolonged use of digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, has been linked to an increased risk of myopia in children. The constant focusing on nearby objects can strain the eyes and contribute to the progression of myopia.
Lack of outdoor activities: Studies have found that spending more time outdoors can help reduce the risk of myopia in children. Exposure to natural sunlight and engaging in outdoor activities can promote healthy eye development.
Progressive myopia can lead to severe complications if left untreated. High myopia can increase the risk of developing other eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment. Early detection and intervention through myopia management strategies are crucial for reducing the risk of these complications.
While it may not be possible to entirely prevent myopia in children, there are steps parents can take to help reduce the risk and slow down its progression. Some tips for myopia control include:
Encourage outdoor play: Ensure that your child spends time outdoors daily. Engaging in outdoor activities can help promote healthy eye development and reduce the risk of myopia onset.
Limit screen time: Set limits on the amount of time your child spends on digital devices. Encourage them to take regular breaks from screens to rest their eyes.
Promote good eye care habits: Teach your child the importance of proper eye care, such as maintaining a safe distance from screens, using adequate lighting when reading or working, and taking breaks to rest the eyes.
Regular eye exams: Schedule regular eye examinations for your child to detect any vision problems early and implement appropriate myopia treatments as needed.
Regular eye exams play a vital role in maintaining your child's overall eye health and detecting vision problems, such as myopia, early on. Eye care professionals recommend that children receive their first comprehensive eye examination at six months of age, followed by additional exams at age three and then before starting school. After that, children should have their eyes examined every one to two years, depending on their eye care professional's recommendations.
During an eye exam, the eye care professional will evaluate your child's visual acuity, eye alignment, and overall eye health. They will also determine if your child requires corrective lenses or other myopia treatments. Early detection and intervention can help slow down the progression of myopia and reduce the risk of developing severe complications in the future.
Myopia is a widespread vision condition that can significantly impact a child's quality of life. By recognizing the symptoms and seeking timely intervention, parents can help their children maintain healthy vision and reduce the risk of severe complications associated with progressive myopia. Encouraging outdoor play, limiting screen time, promoting good eye care habits, and scheduling regular eye exams are essential steps in managing myopia in children. Through early detection and appropriate myopia treatments, we can ensure our children enjoy clear vision and a bright future.
For more information on myopia in children, visit Clarity Eyecare at our offices in Birmingham (248) 369-3300, Waterford (248) 698-2000, Commerce Twp. (248) 366-8600, Walled Lake (248) 674-1707, Sylvan Lake (248) 682-6448 and South Lyon (248) 437-3351, MI. Call one of our locations to schedule an appointment today.