Raising Myopia Awareness: Facts About Myopia You Need to Know
Myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness, is a vision condition in which people can see normally when viewing close objects. However, distant objects appear blurred. According to the American Optometric Association, myopia affects approximately 30% of Americans. While some people are born with myopia, the condition develops in others over time. This condition is increasing globally at an alarming rate, especially in children.
Here are important facts that you need to know about myopia, including valuable information about how you can prevent your child from developing the condition:
- Structural abnormalities of the eye are the common cause of myopia, which typically develops when the eyeball is too long, or the cornea is too curved, causing light that enters the eye to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it, resulting in a blurry image.
- A common myth persists that myopia is not a serious condition. Conversely, myopia is a severe condition that can lead to significant complications if left untreated. Myopia is classified as an epidemic, as childhood-onset myopia is a rapidly growing threat to children worldwide. In fact, statistics show that myopia affects 9% of school-aged children and 30% of adolescents. The teenage years are a period during which the condition usually progresses rapidly.
- Nearsightedness runs in families. Family history can be a predictor of myopia. If a parent is nearsighted, their child has an increased risk (25%) of developing the condition. The risk is even higher (50%) when both parents have the disorder. Myopia usually starts around puberty and gradually worsens until adulthood. However, it can also develop in children as young as age six. If untreated once it develops, myopia can worsen during the teen years, a period of rapid growth. Myopia can also develop during adulthood.
- Myopia can be caused by environmental factors. Multiple risk factors can contribute to the development and progression of myopia. Studies point to the lack of time spent outdoors as one reason for the troubling increase in cases. An increase in myopia progression is not unusual as more daily activities such as schoolwork and reading are centered around computers and take place at an arm’s length. Repeated focus on a book, computer, phone, or tablet screen that goes on for extended periods (hours) will increase the risk of developing myopia.
You can make an effort to prevent your children from developing myopia
Increasing time spent outdoors will force the eyes to focus on the horizon and images off in the distance. This simple lifestyle change can give the eyes a restful break and effectively reduce the chances of developing myopia by up to 50%, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). In addition, the AAO recommends that children be encouraged to take 20-second breaks from digital screens to view an object that is 20 feet away and repeat this exercise every 20 minutes.
- People with moderate to severe myopia are at higher risk for glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and myopic macular degeneration, which refers to nearsightedness that continues to grow progressively worse and can lead to severe vision loss.
By balancing limited screen time with outdoor time, you can do your part in effectively preventing your child from developing myopia as they grow older. This effort can also slow the progression of myopia. There are treatment methods available to slow myopia’s progression, such as orthokeratology and other specialized daily wear center distance multifocal contact lenses and eye drops. Consult with Miami Contact Lens Institute if you think your child is at risk of developing myopia. Schedule an eye exam and discuss your concerns with one of our skilled eye care professionals. Protecting your child’s visual health is critical. Enlist the expertise of MCLI to ensure that your child always sees a brighter future ahead.
Testimonial from Jessica, Satisfied Myopia Patient
Dr. Kramer has extensive knowledge in contact lenses and is always up to date with technology and advances for eye care and vision solutions. She strives to find the best solution for each person’s needs and lifestyle and for all ages. In addition to vision correction, she also provides access to other treatments including myopia management.