Myopia in Kids: Treatment and Prevention
If your child has myopia, it means that they are nearsighted (they can see objects that are close-up clearly but have trouble focusing on objects at a distance). This problem often begins in early life, and it may worsen or progress throughout childhood and adolescence.
Fortunately, myopia is easily treated, for example, with eyeglasses. There are also steps that you can take to keep your child’s myopia from worsening or slow its progression. Management is important because left untreated, myopia can continue to increase and become severe; it also raises the person’s risk of developing other eye health problems later, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachments.
What causes myopia?
In a person with myopia, the eyeball is abnormally long from front to back. The light rays that should focus directly on the retina instead focus in front of it. This makes distant objects appear blurry. Many children who have myopia may not notice that their vision is blurry; they may assume that their vision is normal and not realize that they have a correctable problem. Therefore, they may not say anything to indicate that they are having trouble seeing. That’s why it’s so important for parents, teachers, and other adults to watch for signs of myopia in kids. Regular eye exams are also crucial and should be done as young as 6 months of age according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The precise cause of myopia is usually unknown although genetic predisposition may play a role. People who spend much time doing near work may also be more likely to develop myopia. However, this may be unavoidable; almost everyone today is involved in near stimuli with computers and smartphones, there are just as many studies that show that this increases the risk of myopia as those that come to the opposite conclusion. The environment may play a role, with time spent outdoors possibly offering a protective effect – perhaps because of the larger distances, exposure to natural light, or the increase in vitamin D.
How can you protect your child from myopia?
Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to prevent myopia. However, you may be able to slow its progression, protecting your child from worsening vision and potentially lowering their risk of serious eye problems down the road. There are several possible methods that you can try under your eye care professional’s supervision; these include:
- Vision correction. Some parents worry that their children will become “dependent” on eyeglasses and are therefore reluctant to obtain them, incorrectly believing that it’s best not to correct the child’s eyesight at all. However, the opposite is true; a child’s vision is more likely to become worse without correction.
- Outdoor time. As mentioned, spending time outside may delay or even reduce the progression of myopia. Be sure that your child has ample opportunities to play outdoors, whether in organized sports, leisure activities, or simply relaxing or sightseeing.Orthokeratology is a procedure that involves gently molding and reshaping the cornea. The patient is fitted with special contact lenses that reshape the cornea. When they are worn overnight, the person usually has crystal-clear vision in the morning, without glasses or contact lenses. This vision lasts all day long.
- Low-dose Atropine. Low-dose Atropine is a drop that is used once in each eye at bedtime in order to slow down the progression of myopia.
- Multifocal soft-lenses. Similar to orthokeratology, multifocal soft lenses can prevent the progression of myopia by inducing myopic defocus. The only difference is that they are worn during the day, instead of at night and do not provide the visual freedom that orthokeratology does.
The Myopia Management Clinic at WCLI
At Weston Contact Lens Institute, we understand the risks that young people with myopia face. That’s why we offer our Myopia Management Clinic, with early intervention services designed to slow the progression of myopia and help the patient avoid serious complications. The clinic focuses on patients who develop myopia as children, who have worsening or severe myopia, and who have a family history of myopia. If your child falls into one of these categories, contact us for a consultation.
We look forward to helping your child enjoy a lifetime of healthy vision.