Myopia, more commonly known as “nearsightedness,” is a growing public health concern. Myopia in children has been steadily riding for decades, and left un- or under-treated, it can lead to worsening vision issues throughout their lives including cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Protecting children’s vision is vital not only for their quality of life, but also for the health of our communities. Keep reading to learn about the epidemic of children’s myopia and the steps you can take to help your own kids.
Why Is Myopia on the Rise in Children?
While genetics play a role in myopia, there are a variety of social and environmental factors that have been linked to the increased prevalence of the issue.
One of the main environmental factors linked to the rise in childhood myopia is urbanization. Areas that are densely populated with less access to open and green spaces have higher rates of nearsightedness in children than rural and outer-suburban areas.
Increased educational demands are also putting greater strain on kids’ developing eyes. Children today have twice the homework load as children in the 90s, keeping them indoors and focused on pages significantly more than children in the past.
Kids are using screens both for school and entertainment, and more often than not, these screens are small and close. This means children’s eyes have to work harder to focus, harming their development. The overuse of screens has been linked to the development of myopia.
Natural light and looking at things at a distance are imperative for healthy eye development. Already on the rise, childhood myopia saw a spike during the pandemic as kids spent even more time indoors.
How Can You Help Protect Your Children’s Vision?
While action is required by everyone (from city planners to educators) to improve conditions for children’s vision, there are things you can do as a parent to prevent and treat myopia in your kids.
- Limit screen time, and make sure you’re establishing healthy screen time habits.
- Encourage outdoor play, especially in natural environments.
- Intervene early with a reputable eye doctor who has knowledge of ways to slow or stop progression of myopia.
- Make sure your children’s corrective lenses are the right prescription with regular visits to the eye doctor.
Make Vision Health a Priority
While myopia cannot be reversed, proper management can control its development and reduce the risk of severe progression. Make annual eye exams part of your overall health plan with your kids. An eye doctor near you can provide eye care tailored to your child’s unique needs and make sure your child’s corrective lenses are up to date and continually advise you as to the options available to slow or stop progression.
At Complete Eye Care of Medina, we are dedicated to preserving and protecting vision health for the whole family. Our optometrists are skilled in working with children, providing custom vision solutions, prescribing corrective lenses and educating parents. When it comes to your children’s eye health, we’re on your team. Schedule an appointment at CEC today.