Short Sightedness Symptoms: 9 Important Signs That Your Child May Have Myopia
Over the past decade alone, more and more children are being prescribed to wear corrective eyeglasses for eye conditions—and more parents are thinking, is this really necessary?
The most prevalent vision disorder is myopia, according to recent studies conducted by Eye-The Scientific Journal of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. (1) While a diagnosis of myopia might not sound all that serious (especially when it is labelled as ‘nearsightedness’), eye doctors and specialists reiterate the importance of treating this vision problem with corrective lenses as early as possible. Pediatric Optometrist, Kelsey A. Carriere, OD, FAAO, shared that many parents often stand in doubt and disbelief when she explains that children are at risk for serious vision-related conditions later in life if myopia is not treated right away.
Even as it is, diagnosis already happens ‘late’ enough, when children are already in school and struggling to see what the teacher is writing on the blackboard or farther away. If you think wearing corrective lenses will only make your child’s eyesight worse over time, you need to have another think, and read on to know the facts about this most common eye condition, and how to address it and curb its progression.
- Myopia affects distance vision, which means a person is unable to properly focus on objects that are far away, but have no problem seeing or reading objects that are near. A person with myopia has no trouble reading a book in front of him or her, or text from a desktop computer or laptop, but everything becomes blurry when viewed from a distance. Myopia often happens when the eyeball is longer than normal or your cornea is curved too steeply. The image seen by the eye is focused before it even reaches the retina, therefore causing the image to be seen as unfocused or blurred.(2),(3) In a myopic eye, light focuses in front of the retina and creates blurred vision.
- Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a very common vision disorder that usually develops during childhood. An estimated 22.9% of the world population, or 1.406 billion people, have myopia, with the rate of 37–60% occurring in Asian populations.(4) WebMD and Medical News Today have noted that myopia is usually diagnosed before the age of 20.(5) Myopia is on the rise and continues to be one of the most common vision problems during childhood. In fact, a recent study predicts that myopia will affect vision for nearly half of the global population by 2050.(6)
- Heredity and environment are significant risk factors. While there is not enough research to prove what causes myopia, genetics and environmental exposures have been identified as risk factors in many research studies.(7) If either parent is nearsighted, then this increases the probability that the child will be nearsighted, too. Studies have also found that children who spend more time indoors have a higher risk of developing myopia. Close-range activities, such as reading, playing computer games, and watching television, are related to its increased incidences.(8)
- Myopia increases when your eyes grow. Nearsightedness may develop gradually or rapidly, and oftentimes, it gets even worse through adolescence when the body grows quickly. It tends to get worse as children get older because their eyes continue to grow. It often stabilizes at age 20 and above, but it is also possible for adults to develop myopia. When myopia progresses to more than 500 degrees, it is known as high myopia, which may lead to additional eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.(9)
- A basic eye exam can confirm nearsightedness. Doctors diagnose myopia through a basic eye exam, which includes a refraction assessment and an eye health exam. Children need to have their vision tested and screened for eye disease and conditions by a paediatrician, an ophthalmologist, or an optometrist from 6 months, 3 years and before entering first grade. After that, intervals should be every two years throughout school-age years, during well-child visits, where the paediatrician or health care provider will check the child’s growth and development in order to find or prevent problems; or through school or public screenings.
If you notice your child persistently squinting or blinking, often rubbing his or her eyes, sits too close to the television, movie screen, or insists on sitting closer to the blackboard in class, then it would be best to consult an eye professional immediately.
- If untreated, myopia can inhibit academic performance in children. Uncorrected nearsightedness can significantly impact a child’s everyday life. How can a child perform a task properly if he or she has to struggle all the time with limited and problematic vision? Having to squint and try so hard to focus all the time may strain the eyes, which can lead to severe headaches and visual stress, which even makes it more difficult to study and learn. It is important to know and understand the ways to prevent the progression or worsening of myopia.
- Wearing myopia-control lenses treats myopia. In order for an individual to see an object clearly, the image must be projected clearly onto the retina of the eye. There are many different technologies to manage myopia progression. Hoya Vision Care developed an innovative spectacle lens for myopia control, together with its research collaborator. MiYOSMART lenses not only correct vision but also helps control myopia progression at the same time. MiYOSMART lens helps provide a clear image on the retina, which counteracts the increased length of the eye.(10) It is a simple, non-invasive and the safest way to sharpen vision and manage myopia.
Another option is to use contact lenses. They are usually prescribed for children from age 8 and older, but children and contact lenses are not always the best fit. As children are active, running and tumbling about to expend their energy, they need lens material that is impact-resistant and can protect their myopic eyes. The United States Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) warns parents of the many problems and risks contact lenses may pose on children. In fact, according to a study published in Pediatrics, about 13,500 of the roughly more than 70,000 children who are rushed to the emergency room each year for injuries and complications from medical devices include infections and eye abrasions caused by contact lenses (USFDA, n.d.). It may be better to leave the use of contact lenses for much older children. On the other hand, there has been some research done on medicated eye drops such as low-dose of atropine which are effective as myopia control. However, it is invasive to the eye and the possible long term side effects are not exactly known.
MiYOSMART lens least affects children’s lifestyle as compared with contact lenses and other options. The polycarbonate material of MiYOSMART lenses make the lenses thin and lightweight, yet highly impact resistant. And with the additional UV protection, it is therefore strong and safe and especially suitable for active children.
- D.I.M.S. – new research and technology for managing myopia. The Defocus Incorporated Multiple Segments (D.I.M.S.) Technology was clinically proven to succeed in the control of myopia progression children and is the key feature of MiYOSMART lens by Hoya Vision Care. Hoya Vision Care incorporated the clinically proven D.I.M.S. technology in producing smooth-surfaced lenses with multiple defocus segments, which has set the trend in the optical and eyewear industry. The award-winning D.I.M.S. technology in MiYOSMART single vision corrective lens allows for a convex surface that is comprised of hundreds of small segments, each providing myopic defocus. The D.I.M.S. technology of MiYOSMART lens is an innovative, non-invasive solution that corrects myopic refractive error while effectively curbing myopia progression in average by 59% (12) at the same time, and slows axial eye growth in average by 60%.(13)
MiYOSMART, a special lens that manages myopia, has recently won the highly regarded Silmo d’Or Award in the Vision category at the recent Silmo Paris Optical Fair that recognises the groundbreaking innovation in successfully managing and controlling myopia in children.
- Be pro-active: Know how to help slow the progression of myopia over time. Fortunately, new research is now accessible to improved strategies to manage myopia in children. There are three most important takeaways from current research and studies that we need to focus on:
- Turn the screens and devices off
- Spend more time outdoors
- Give your child the best corrective lens with clinically-proven technology that will help curb myopia progression
Studies show that children who spend at least 90 minutes in natural sunlight and fresh air every day have reduced rates of myopia progression.(14) Outdoor playtime is essential for children with myopia as it gives the eye muscles a chance to relax and take a break from constant focusing activities. Being outside means allowing time off from staring at screens and other electronic devices, and having a chance to looking at things that are far away. Children need to rest their eyes at least every 20 minutes, taking a break from reading books and drawing, too.
Remember, the earlier myopia is managed, the better chances of preventing its progression. There is nothing we can do with genetics, but we can manage our lifestyle and control certain contributing factors in our environment to curb the progression of children’s myopia.
(1), (7) Foster, PJ & Jiang, Y. (2014). Epidemiology of myopia. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930282#:~:text=The%20prevalence%20rates%20were%20found%20to%20vary%20with%20age.&text=The%20prevalence%20of%20myopia%20decreased,aged%2075%20years%20and%20above.
(2) Recko, M. & Stahl, E.D. (2015). Childhood Myopia: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Prevention. Missouri Medicine. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6170055/.
(3) “Nearsightedness”. (n.d.) www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nearsightedness/symptoms-causes/syc-20375556#:~:text=Nearsightedness%20(myopia)%20is%20a%20common,instead%20of%20on%20your%20retina.
(4), (8) Theophanous, C., Modjtahedi, B., Batech, M.. Marlin, D., Luong, T., & Fong, D. (2018). Myopia prevalence and risk factors in children. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6120514/.
(5) Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.) “Myopia”. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8579-myopia-nearsightedness.
(6) Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. In Press (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.01.006).
(9) What to know about Myopia. (2020). Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/myopia#progression.
(10) Nearsightedness. (n.d.) Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nearsightedness/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20375561#:~:text=Nearsightedness%20is%20diagnosed%20by%20a,farsightedness%2C%20astigmatism%2C%20or%20presbyopia.
(11) Lam CSY, Tang WC, Lee RPK, Chun RKM, To CH. A randomized clinical trial for myopia control – use of myopic defocus spectacle lens. 8th International Congress of Behavioral Optometry (ICBO), 26-29 of April 2018. Sydney, Australia.
(12), (13) Arumugam B, Hung LF, To CH, Holden B, Smith EL 3rd. The e_ects of simultaneous dual focus lenses on refractive development in infant monkeys. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Oct 16;55(11):7423-32. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-14250.
(14) Heiting, G. (n.d.) Myopia causes: Is your child at risk? All About Vision. www.allaboutvision.com/parents/myopia-causes.htm