5 Indicators of Myopia in Children

myopia in children

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common vision condition in which the shape of the eye causes light entering it to refract incorrectly and focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. This causes objects at a distance to appear blurry, while close objects can be seen clearly. Myopia affects one in three people; however, the statistics are on the rise. According to a systemic review and analysis published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it is projected that half the world’s population will be affected by myopia by 2050.



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Symptoms of Nearsightedness

Some people are born with myopia; in others, it can develop over time. Myopia can run in families and is often diagnosed in children between the ages of eight and 12. However, it can be detected much earlier. Here are five warning signs of myopia in children to be aware of:

  1. Squinting, blinking excessively, or rubbing eyes – When eyes struggle to focus and there is mild myopia, we often find that squinting helps to “correct” the issue, albeit temporarily. Children will also be observed blinking too often or rubbing their eyes to focus more clearly.
  2. Headaches caused by eyestrain – If your child complains of frequent headaches and you don’t think they are related to allergies, they may be caused by eyestrain. We recommend scheduling an appointment to have your child’s vision checked, as a basic eye exam can confirm nearsightedness.
  3. Holding books and objects close to the face – One of the easiest ways to discern that your child is having difficulty seeing objects at a distance is if they repeatedly hold books or objects close to their face to view them.
  4. Sitting close to the television or at the front of the classroom – If your child routinely moves to sit close to the TV or movie screen, or they prefer to be seated at the front of the class to see the instructor or chalk board clearly, these are classic signs that they may be nearsighted.
  5. Closing one eye to read – If you notice your child closing one eye to read, it is a definitive sign that they are experiencing visual difficulties. This is a natural technique people use to overcome blurred vision. Closing one eye may provide some visual clarity and “temporarily correct ” the issue.

How to Prevent Nearsightedness

There are a few simple ways to help prevent your child from developing nearsightedness. Research shows that children develop myopia at an accelerated rate primarily because their daily routine is almost entirely performed within arm’s reach. In addition to schoolwork, games and other forms of entertainment are now delivered through our phones, tablets, and computers. This can increase myopia progression as most of what we focus on is up close. By having your child spend more time outdoors, they will be forced to focus on objects in the distance. This will allow their eye muscles to relax – especially after all those hours spent in front of a screen. In addition, experts strongly recommend:

  • No screen time for children under two years of age
  • Limit screen time to one hour daily for children ages two to five
  • Limit screen time to two hours daily for children ages five to 18

While this recommendation may seem challenging to implement, especially for teenage children, practicing the 20/20/20 rule with your child may be more achievable: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at least 20 feet away.



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Preventing Myopia

New advancements in technology are continually being developed. Currently, myopia can be corrected using eyeglasses and contact lenses but these treatments do not prevent myopia from progressing. Treatments like corneal reshaping or orthokeratology, center-distance multifocal contact lenses specifically designed to manage myopia, and low-dose atropine eye drops available which are also effective in slowing the progression of this condition.

The best way to treat myopia is through early detection. We recommend that children be screened for eye disease and have their vision tested by a pediatrician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist at the following ages:

  • Age 6 months
  • Age 3 years
  • Before first grade and every other year during school years. These screenings can occur at regularly scheduled pediatric visits or through school and/or public screenings available in your area.

Call us today to schedule your child’s eye exam today. Ensure that your child can see the world as clearly as possible and avoid the myriad complications often associated with myopia when the condition goes undetected.

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