August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month! This month we are focusing on a common childhood vision problem called “Myopia.”
What is “Myopia?”
You may have heard of “myopia” or “nearsightedness” but few people understand how this refractive condition is affected by our environment.
Someone who is nearsighted can see very well up close, usually within a few inches to a few feet away, but has difficulty seeing things in the distance. Naturally, a farsighted person can see distance objects, but has trouble focusing on near objects. Farsightedness is more difficult to spot, especially in children who have the ability to accommodate, or over-focus and “trick” simple eye tests.
It is crucial that all children visit an Optometrist for a complete eye exam before he or she begins school, or at the first sign of a vision problem.
Studies have shown that children who spend more time outdoors are less likely to be nearsighted than those who spend much more time indoors. Studies performed in the UK, Australia, Denmark and Taiwan, consistently showed a significantly lower risk of progressive myopia in children who spent more time outdoors.
More research is needed to determine which factors have the greatest impact on eye and vision health, but distance vision activities, physical activity, and sunlight all likely play a role.
While spending more time outdoors can benefit a child’s eye development, it is important to protect their growing eyes with proper sunwear! Our friendly optical technicians have many sunwear options for children, whether they need prescription in them or not!
Will my kids be nearsighted?
If you are a parent who wears glasses, you may be wondering if your children will suffer from the same fate. While myopia has a hereditary component, there is no way to predict if you will pass these genes along to your kiddos. If you have three children, you could have one with astigmatism, one who is nearsighted, and one who can see from here to Tacoma without glasses!
It’s important to note that children who are nearsighted often perform as well, or better than “emmetropes” or children without refractive conditions. So even if your kids do take after you in the sight department, their cognitive development is usually not impacted for better or worse.
What can be done to control myopia?
While myopia is considered a refractive condition rather than a medical one, the impact of poor vision can affect all aspects of our life.
There is no “cure” for myopia. Refractive surgery such as LASIK may be an option for those who are nearsighted and/or have astigmatism, but there are limits to what LASIK can accomplish. Myopia can progress to the point that LASIK cannot satisfactorily correct vision. For this reason, many people are turning to eye doctors who specialize in “myopia control.”
What is myopia control?
Myopia control refers to any process, procedure, or device that slows or stops the progression of myopia, or nearsightedness. There are several methods currently practiced that show a high degree of success in controlling myopia, including:
- Atropine ophthalmic drops
- Multifocal eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Orthokeratology, or “Ortho K”
Each of these methods works a little differently to stop or slow myopia progression. If your child is showing signs of being nearsighted, schedule an eye exam and your doctor will prescribe the best solution to your child’s vision problem.
Dr. Day prefers Orthokeratology as a method for controlling myopia. This method has the benefit of being drug-free and has been tested by the doctor himself! That’s right, Dr. Day successfully wore Ortho-K lenses for over 10 years before he underwent LASIK surgery in 2017.
If you are interested in Ortho-K lenses for yourself or your child, schedule an eye health assessment today!Request an Appointment