What is myopia control - and why is it important for children?



What is myopia?

Myopia is blurry long-distance vision, often called “short-sighted’’ or “near-sighted”. A

person with myopia can see clearly up close – when reading a book or looking at a

phone – but words and objects look fuzzy on a blackboard, on television or when

driving. But a pair of glasses aren't the whole story.


Myopia (often called short sightedness) is an eye health issue that every parent should

be aware of but may not know about.


Myopia is rapidly becoming a serious public health concern worldwide, yet recent

research indicates that up to 65% of Australian parents (with children 0-17 years old)

and 69% of New Zealand parents do not know what myopia is. Even more concerning,

from a professional standpoint, is the statistic that only 12% of parents in both countries

are aware that myopia presents a health risk to children later in life and that its effects

can be damaging beyond simply eyesight.


Myopia is a global problem – the prevalence among Australian 12-year-olds doubled

between 2005 and 2011. It is becoming more common and is generally first picked up

in school-age children who may frown or screw up their eyes in an effort to see.

Short-sighted children may also hold reading material quite close or sit very close to

the television. Many are avid readers.



Why should you be concerned?

Lots of research has correlated myopia with related problems such as retinal

detachment, earlier onset of glaucoma, retina degeneration and cataracts.

In addition, the associated effects can include impacts to an individual’s quality of life.

This is especially true in cases where a higher degree of myopia is present. In these

instances it can be not only visually disabling, but also have financial, social and personal consequences.


If a child has been diagnosed with myopia, it is recommended that parents or carers

discuss the options for ongoing correction and management of short-sightedness with

their Optometrist. The intention is to slow the progression of the myopia. Taking action

early can reduce the onset of associated eye-health problems later in life. There are a

number of lens and lifestyle actions that parents can take to mitigate these risks.


There are clear signs of vision impairment evident in children.

Read our handy checklist here to assess whether your kids might have a problem.


How to prevent or slow myopia?


● It is recommended that children should not spend more than three hours a day –

in addition to school time – on close work such as reading, homework or screen-

time.

● When using a computer, encourage your children to take breaks every 20 minutes.

A simple option is to suggest they look across the room for 20 seconds which helps

to refocus their eyes and to encourage them to take a break from the screen light

and size.

● Smart phones are popular for children and teenagers’ texting, social media,

reading and games - but too much screen time is linked to myopia, can cause

defective blinking/dry eyes, reduced movement and insufficient outdoor time.


● The blue-white bright light from tablets and phones affect sleep and may have

long-term eye health issues. While there are no guidelines yet on how much to

limit a child’s overall time spent on screens, these devices should be avoided by

children and young adults for three hours before bedtime.

● There is mounting evidence to suggest that exposure to outdoor light is beneficial

in slowing onset and progression of myopia. 90 minutes every day outdoors, is the

recommendation to reduce the risk of myopia.


Research shows 80% of children’s learning is visual, so it’s really important that we do

our best to identify those with vision problems and fix them. For practical tips on how to

slow the progression of myopia (in diagnosed cases) or if a child displays any of the

symptoms in our handy checklist, its recommended they have a learning related vision assessment at Visique Greerton.


We are passionate about helping with vision problems.


Our team specialise in children’s vision for learning, in behavioural optometry and we offer vision therapy.


Call us today on 07 577 0113.





Visique Greerton Optometrists

(07) 577 0113

157 Chadwick Road

Greerton, Tauranga

reception@visiquegreerton.co.nz

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