How can you slow down the progression of myopia in children?
Myopia in Children, Interesting Eye Articles
21 December 2022
What is myopia?
Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, is when someone can see objects near them but struggle with those that are further away. It is not obvious when a child is born that it has myopia but as they grow, the condition can begin to develop. This is mostly caused by refractive errors, where the eyeball is too long, therefore the light will refract incorrectly as compared to a normal eye. Therefore the light falls in front of the retina instead of being on the nerve tissues at the back of the eye.
How does myopia develop in children?
This can be caused by a wide range of factors ranging from environmental factors to genetics. If a child has a parent with myopia, they will have a higher chance of developing the condition, along with constant usage of screens and near work. Furthermore, technology is almost inseparable from both work and school, therefore children who constantly need to be close up with a screen have a greater chance of developing myopia. Another cause can be due to the child’s eyeball growing too fast, or continuing to grow beyond the ages of 10 to 12, when they’re supposed to stop developing.
Why does it progress as children age?
The eyes of children grow rapidly which is a natural occurrence and continue into their teenage years when it starts slowing down. By the time they reach 20, it would have stopped growing, and their myopia may begin to stabilize. As the eye grows, it will change shape and this will usually lead to the condition worsening.
Another reason is the prolonged use of smart devices. We understand that more schools are using a hybrid form of conducting classes or using these devices to replace textbooks and workbooks. However, excessive use can lead to myopia worsening as it leads to eyestrain as they have to focus for a long time.
Some parents may limit their child’s use of smart devices and offer the suggestion of reading a book or drawing on a piece of paper. But do you know? Reading, drawing, and using a smart device are all considered near-vision tasks. The child would have to hold the book or paper close to their face, and it will also lead to a progression of myopia.
How can you slow down the progression?
As a worried parent, having your child’s myopia develop may seem inevitable, but there are ways to slow its progression.
First step: Have a detailed and comprehensive eye exam.
You should speak with an eye doctor who will perform a comprehensive eye exam to detect any signs of diseases that could be causing it. The doctor can also point you toward an effective and suitable treatment as they get to know your family’s health history, your concerns, and your child’s condition.
Below is a list of treatments that may be suggested by your doctor.
These are unique contact lenses that are worn overnight as your child sleeps. This works by subtly reshaping the cornea by flattening it. But, your child will have to wear it consistently at night, or the cornea will return to its previous state, causing myopia to return.
Be outdoors more often
This is a simple “treatment” that can be turned into an enjoyable activity for adults and children alike. Exposure to natural light and a variety of different visual stimuli can slow the progression of myopia. An example of this could be taking a walk in the park for a certain period of time each day.
Changes in habits
Your child can be advised to limit their screen time, and take a break every half an hour. They may also be told to hold reading materials at least 30cm, and smart devices at least 50cm, from their eyes. If the light on their electronic device can be adjusted, you can turn it down to minimize glare.
These have to be taken every night for 2 years and can slow myopia. However, there is still insufficient evidence about its effectiveness, and you should discuss with your doctor on its pros and cons.
Have regular eye exams
Going for an eye exam can help detect any diseases early, as well as, know if any adjustments need to be made to the treatment that’s being used. This can also better control and prevent the worsening of myopia.
What are the future risks for children who have myopia?
Myopia and severe myopia carries risk for children that they can carry into their adulthood. Therefore early detection and treatment are important in minimizing and being informed of these risks.
This is when the retina detaches from its original position at the back of your eye. It is a serious medical condition that will need immediate attention or you may end up with permanent vision loss. For those with severe myopia, the risk of developing this condition is higher than those who have low myopia.
When the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain is damaged. Along with retinal detachment, this condition can lead to permanent vision loss and will need immediate medical care.
Myopic macular degeneration
A longer eyeball can stretch the retina, causing tears in the macula that lead to bleeding beneath it. People who have this condition will need to have it monitored regularly to watch for signs of worsening or new symptoms.
What are the signs that your child has myopia?
Children may not understand what myopia is and not know that they have to voice out about changes regarding their vision. However, they will show signs of this condition, which adults such as parents, guardians, or teachers can identify.
These signs can be:
● Hold books or screens very close to their face
● Squints and frowns frequently
● Have no interest in activities that require good distance judgment and vision
● Frequent complaints of headaches
If your child is showing signs of myopia, you should book an appointment with an eye doctor who will conduct an eye exam as early detection can lead to minimizing any complications down the road.
Book an appointment today if you worry that your child has myopia. Early detection and effective treatment are important to slow its progress. Contact us for more information on how we can help you.