of parents have taken their children to an optometrist in the past year
of parents believe that comprehensive exams aren’t needed until children enter school
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to ask your child’s eye doctor. Download the eye doctor discussion guide and discover just what to say in your next myopia conversation—which is the most important one you can have for your child’s future vision health.
Myopia is a chronic, progressive condition commonly due to elongation of the eye. As a result, when light enters a myopic eye, it is focused in front of the retina rather than directly on it, which causes far vision to be blurred. Generally, myopia can be an inherited condition, but also excessive “near work,” (like holding a digital device close to the face) and lack of outdoor time have been associated with an earlier onset of progressive myopia. Myopia is associated with a higher risk of eye conditions such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and macular degeneration (MMD)—which may lead to vision impairment or blindness in the long-term. Early detection and intervention can help reduce such life-long risks.
If your child has myopia or you’ve seen them squint or hold objects close to their face, then the best thing you can do is visit your local eye doctor in order to get a customized treatment plan.
In terms of eye-healthy lifestyle changes, spending time outdoors has been shown to have a protective effect for the onset of myopia and Growing evidence supports that more time outdoors may also slow the progression of myopia.1 Researchers also discovered significant associations between the use of screens (digital devices alone or with computer usage) and myopia progression.2
1 Deng L, Pang Y. Effect of Outdoor Activities in Myopia Control: Meta-analysis of Clinical Studies. Optom Vis Sci. 2019;96:276-282
2 Foreman J, Salim AT, Praveen A, et al. Association between digital smart device use and myopia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet. 2021:3(12):E806-E818.
While there is no cure that reverses myopia, there are many effective treatments that can slow myopia’s progression, including orthokeratology contact lenses only worn at night, soft contact lenses that can be worn during the day, atropine eye drops, specialized glasses lenses, and others your eye doctor can discuss with you. It is important that caregivers and parents speak to an eye doctor as early as possible in order to prevent their child’s myopia from progressing.
Myopia is a global epidemic with numbers increasing dramatically each year. Myopia currently affects around one-third of the world’s population1 and is predicted to affect half of the world’s population by 2050, with almost 1 billion people at significant lifelong risk of eye disease due to high myopia. Given the increasing prevalence of myopia and related complications, it is important to act as early as possible to protect your children’s vision in the future.
1 Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016.
As a parent, you have enough to worry about. However, it’s important to take myopia seriously. The earlier your child is diagnosed and treated, the greater the protection against future vision loss. While myopia used to merely be associated with blurry vision and “nearsightedness,” we now know that myopia is correlated with vision problems later in life, including a higher risk of myopic macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.5 The World Health Organization (WHO) defines high myopia at -6 diopters, but patient data suggests that even moderate myopia of -5 diopters or less is associated with increased vision complications.6
5 Bullimore MA, Ritchey ER, Shah S, Leveziel N, Bourne RRA, Flitcroft DI. The Risks and Benefits of Myopia Control. Ophthalmology. 2021;128(11):1561-1579. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2021.04.032
6Haarman AEG, Enthoven CA, Tideman JWL, Tedja MS, Verhoeven VJM, Klaver CCW. The Complications of Myopia: A Review and Meta-Analysis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2020;61(4):49.
We recommend that you always consult an eye doctor about the best treatment options for your child. A comprehensive annual eye exam by an eye doctor is recommended. While myopia can’t be reversed naturally, there are plenty of healthy lifestyle options that have been shown to slow the progression of myopia, including spending time outside and limiting screen time and near work outside of school time.
Positive lifestyle changes like taking regular breaks from screens and spending at least two hours a day outside have been shown to prevent or delay myopia onset. Delaying introducing children to screens has also been shown to delay myopia onset.
Gas permeable lenses worn while asleep and removed when awake create a temporary change in cornea shape and simultaneously slow low-to-moderate myopia conditions so that glasses aren’t needed during the day.
Soft multifocal or dual-focus contact lenses—typically used to improve near vision in people over 40—have been shown to correct myopic vision in children while simultaneously slowing myopia progression by decreasing eye growth.
Atropine dilates the pupil and relaxes the eyes’ focusing mechanism. Clinical trials indicate low-dose atropine eye drops can slow myopia progression in children.
For children who may not be ready for contact lenses, myopia-control glasses are another option. Talk to your eyecare provider about the best solution for your child.