How does myopia impact your children's vision ?

Myopia is one of the most prevalent vision issues, especially in children. Better known as nearsightedness or shortsightedness, myopia is a condition of the eye where close objects appear clear, but at a distance everything becomes blurry and out of focus. This can impact children's experience at school and everyday life if uncorrected.

Does your child express any of the following symptoms? These could be a sign of short-sightedness (myopia):

  • Periodic headaches 
  • Squinting to see the classroom board
  • Regularly holding screens close to their eyes or sitting close to the TV
  • Rubbing eyes after prolonged static activities (watch the TV)

Our answers to the most common myopia questions

If you have a concern about your child or a child you may know regarding myopia, you may find the following answers helpful.

How do I know my child may have myopia ?

Immediate signs:

  1. Your child may complain of not being able to see what the teacher is writing on the ‘board
  2. The teacher may notice that your child is not focused in class (due to their not being able to read what is on the board and having to look at their friend’s work to see…).

It is often at school that children discover they have myopia: your child may complain of not being able to see what the teacher is writing on the board or the teacher may notice that your child is not focused in class (due to their not being able to read what is on the board and having to look at their friend’s work to see). But myopic children might also experience discomfort in other situations when looking at far – when reading signs in the street, or when looking at the waiting time at the bus stop for example.

As parents, you might also have noticed behavioural changes that can be linked to myopia: reluctance to join sporting activities, a sudden downturn in school results, or simply the fact that your child is squinting, rubbing his/her eyes or standing very close to objects when looking at them. For children, it is recommended to do an eye check every two years, but if you have some doubt regarding myopia it is important to see an eye care professional.

Is my child at risk ?

The main risk factors for myopia development include heredity and environmental factors. Indeed, children with one or both parents having myopia are more likely to develop the condition. Some figures suggest that our modern lifestyle where we are spending the majority of our time indoors on near vision activity is also a contributing factor for myopia development & progression.

If you have myopia and are concerned that your child may be developing it too ( due to many of their activities being indoors and at close distances) it is important that you take them to have their eyes examined.  Your eyecare practitioner can advise on how regularly they should be checked after the first visit.

What is the 20/20 rule?

Take a break every 20 minutes by looking 20 meters away at least for 20 seconds. This little rule is said to help relieve the eye from eye fatigue due to focusing for too long on near work activity.

In our urban & connected world, our near vision is more and more challenged. Together with practicing outdoor activities and taking time to have regular breaks during intense near-vision work can help reduce visual fatigue, and in the long term can potentially contribute to slowing down myopia progression.

Is myopia hereditary ?

Yes, myopia can be hereditary and your eye care practitioner (Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Optician) will routinely ask about family history of eye health, including whether your parents or siblings wear (eye)glasses. See article ‘What are the causes of myopia?’ if you are interested in more details.

Does wearing glasses increase myopia ?

No, wearing glasses won’t accelerate myopia. On the contrary, having an up-to-date optical prescription will give you back the sharp vision you had at far distances before you developed myopia.

In fact, myopia tends to develop when the eye is growing, independently of whether or not you wear eyeglasses. So, If you are myopic, not wearing eyeglasses with the right optical prescription will mean that your far vision may be blurry.

Can my child grow out of myopia ?

The progression of myopia can slow down, and finally stabilize, but it is not reversible, so you cannot grow out of myopia. Yet, it is very easy to compensate for the effects of myopia by wearing appropriate eyeglasses or contact lenses.

At what age does myopia stabilise ?

There is no simple answer to this question... It depends on the individual and in fact, some people do not develop myopia until they start to do much close distance work, for example, university students who spend much time reading and doing assignments at close distances. However, in most cases, myopia will stabilize when the eye stops growing, usually around 25 years of age.

Is it possible to slow down myopia progression for children ?

 A lot of research is being undertaken to make this possible and some first solutions already exist. However, what is known is that children, in particular, should be given the opportunity to relax their eyes (reduce the amount of time doing close distance focusings, such as for reading or computer screens/tablets/smartphones…) by taking routine breaks from close work every hour and by taking part in outdoor activities which relaxes their focusing.

Why do kids get myopia ?

Many children are long-sighted (hyperopic) in their early years and this is due to their eyeball being short (which is completely normal). When they start to mature and start to grow taller, the eyeball also starts to become longer resulting in children who were previously long-sighted, becoming emmetropic (‘normally’ sighted), or perhaps if the eyeball continues to grow, becoming myopic or short-sighted.

Thinking about taking your child for an eye test?

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