Myopia Control for Children
Learn more about Myopia control for children
It’s an eye condition that could affect half the world’s population by 2050: myopia. Already, 30 per cent of Canadians have it. The most alarming fact about myopia is that it predominantly affects children – and most pediatric cases go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Myopia in children can lead to more severe eye diseases later in life, even blindness, if left untreated.
The good news is that there’s an increasing amount of research suggesting that special glasses, contact lenses and eye drops can slow the progression of childhood myopia.
At Optometrists’ Clinic Inc. in Edmonton, we can diagnose myopia in your child and determine the best way forward to help preserve and protect your child’s vision. Contact us at one of our clinics in the Edmonton area to book a pediatric eye exam for your child.
Myopia is also known as being nearsighted or short-sighted. It means you can see close things, but objects far away appear blurry. Myopia occurs when your eye is too long, deforming the cornea and lens (where light enters your eye) and stretching the retina (where the light hits the back of your eye). Therefore, when light enters your eye, it doesn’t hit your retina at the correct angle, and your vision becomes blurry.
A combination of genetic and environmental factors can cause myopia. Children of parents with myopia are at an increased risk of developing the condition. However, increasing research shows that modern lifestyle factors have led to a sharp rise in cases globally.
For example, the Canadian Association of Optometrists cites research that links increased time spent in front of computers and phones with an increased risk of developing myopia. Additionally, spending less time outdoors is a contributing factor. Thus, our modern lifestyle of increased screen time and decreased time outdoors has led to an explosion of myopia cases worldwide.
Children’s eyes grow rapidly, so any eye condition at an early age can impact how a child’s eyes develop. Unfortunately, myopia is hitting children at a younger and younger age. It can now hit children as young as six years old — an alarming fact because, historically, myopia developed in children at 12 or 13.
Short-sightedness is a progressive condition. If left unchecked, symptoms can increase dramatically between the ages of six and 14.
Spending too much time focused on things up close can make myopia worse. Reading, knitting or working at a computer or smartphone can cause symptoms to increase. Moreover, wearing prescription eyeglasses all day long can escalate symptoms. Children with myopia who need glasses to correct their vision should wear them only sometimes, as children typically don’t need them for activities such as reading.
Myopia can inhibit a child’s ability to learn in school and perform well in sports and other activities, leading to poor academic performance and self-esteem issues. On top of regular pediatric eye exams, you should consult an eye doctor if your child exhibits these symptoms:
Excessive eye rubbing
Sitting closer to the television to see things clearly
Headaches caused by eye strain
Children with nearsightedness are at a much higher risk of developing more severe eye diseases later in life, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment. That’s why it’s critical to treat myopia as early as possible.
There’s increasing research that shows there are things you can do to slow the progression of myopia. First, lifestyle changes such as less time in front of screens and more time outdoors can have a positive impact. Health experts recommend children spend at least 1.5 hours outdoors every day.
Second, therapeutic options such as specialized glasses and contact lenses have proven to slow myopia symptoms in children. Daily low-dose atropine eye drops can also be added to the regime to slow the progression.
Several eyeglass manufacturers make eyeglasses that are suited for children with myopia. Here are just a few.
At Optometrists’ Clinic Inc., we provide complete eye care for adults and children. Our pediatric eye exams are essential for diagnosing conditions such as myopia early, giving children their best chance at protecting their vision. We offer several options for myopia control in children, including glasses, contact lenses and eye drops. Contact us at our Edmonton, Westlock and Leduc clinics and schedule an eye exam for your child today.