Myopia in Children

Myopia in Children

Myopia in Children

Myopia in Children

Myopia in Children

Myopia or nearsightedness is a common condition causing blurry distance vision in children and adults.  More people worldwide have myopia than ever before. Recent studies show that myopia is being diagnosed in kids at younger ages, and is progressing quicker than ever before. Myopia is a disease in which the eyeball continues to get longer, causing the image to focus in front of the retina, which causes blurry distance vision. 

Recent studies have shown that higher levels of myopia are associated with developing serious eye diseases later in life. The higher the prescription, the higher the risk of future disease. Eye diseases linked to higher levels of myopia include:


  • Glaucoma

  • Retinal detachment

  • Premature cataracts

  • Myopic Macular degeneration


Myopia progresses most rapidly during childhood, but there are several options available to help control myopia progression.


What are the Symptoms and Behaviors that may Indicate Your Child is Developing Myopia?


  • Difficulty seeing far away

  • Difficulty with sports performance

  • Squinting to see the board in school

  • Complaining of frequent headaches

  • Rubbing eyes

  • Holding items near the face

  • Sitting too close to the TV

  • Squinting

  • Excessively watering eyes


What Causes Myopia and Why does it Progress?


There are multiple factors that contribute to the development and progression of myopia. We’re spending more time looking at screens than ever before. This causes strain on the visual system, and the focusing system has difficulty relaxing when looking far away, leading to the development of nearsightedness.


Correcting myopia with regular glasses and contact lenses leads to something called peripheral defocus, meaning the light gets focused clearly on the retina at one point, but the rest of the retina is left blurry. This causes the eye to keep getting longer as it attempts to make the whole image clear. Using specialized contact lenses can help create a clear image that follows the curve of the retina can help stop myopia from progressing.


What are the Available Treatment Options?

There are several ways you can prevent or control the development of myopia in your child.


Increase outdoor time:  Try to encourage them to spend time outdoors playing. This means spending time looking further away, while moving through large spaces.  Research has shown that 2 hours of outdoor time per day can help prevent the development of myopia in young children, but it doesn’t have the same protective effect in children who have already developed myopia.


Managing Near Point Stress: With the increase in digital device use, our eyes are doing more up-close work than ever before. Phones and tablets are often held closer to the face than books, making our eye’s focusing system have to work even harder. Myopia can develop as a result of the visual system handling all this near-point stress poorly. For indoors, we strongly encourage taking frequent breaks while reading, studying, or using digital devices. Follow the 20/20/20 rule- for every 20 minutes of near work, look 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Holding devices at the correct distance is also an important habit to help prevent myopia progression. Monitor your child when using tablets and phones to make sure they aren’t holding things too close to their face. Make sure they aren’t reading in dim lighting, which causes additional strain.

Vision Therapy: If a problem with how the eyes work together a or focusing problem exists and is contributing to myopia development, this can be treated with vision therapy. Training the visual system to handle near work more efficiently can help myopia from progressing.

Orthokeratology: Ortho-K lenses are hard contact lenses that reshape the cornea to correct for myopia while you sleep. One great benefit of orthokeratology is having clear vision during the day without glasses or contact lenses. Ortho-k works to control myopia by correcting for peripheral defocus. Research has shown that ortho-k lenses can reduce the progression of myopia by 45-50%.


Specialty Soft Multifocal Contact Lenses: Specially designed multifocal contact lenses worn during the daytime can reduce the progression of myopia by 35-50%.  Multifocal contact lenses help myopia progression in 2 ways- they correct for peripheral defocus, and help the eye focus more efficiently at near distances.  Our office offers the Misight lens and the naturalvue multifocal lens.


Atropine Eye Drops: Low-dose atropine eye drops have also been found to be an effective tool to reduce myopia progression. Using this form of treatment has only been approved to use up to 2 years. When possible, we prefer to use contact lens or vision therapy options. However, atropine drops can be a reasonable solution for patients who aren’t contact lens candidates.



For more about myopia in children or to have your child evaluated, contact Vision Rehabilitation Associates at our Northfield, Illinois office. Call (847) 716-2340 to schedule an appointment today.

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