When you hear the statistics, you might think it’s time to panic: The rate of myopia is rising worldwide at alarming rates. In China 60 years ago, for example, only 15% of the population was nearsighted – now, nearly 90% of children and teenagers are affected. In the US, 25% of the population was myopic in the early 70s, but it’s over 40% now. Is it a health crisis? Maybe, but it’s a treatable one. At our kids’ optical shop in Livingston, we are here to help you understand what myopia is and how we can help you.
Myopia – a definition and a diagnosis
Myopia is also called nearsightedness. It means that you cannot see long distances without the help of glasses or contact lenses (‘refractive lenses’). On the other hand, you have no trouble seeing objects up close in focus. Myopia is caused by changes to the shape of the eye globe — specifically elongation or lengthening. This impairs the eye’s ability to properly focus light that is being projected on the retina. Instead of focusing it right at the retina, it focuses it in front of the retina. Myopia’s sister – hyperopia, or farsightedness – is the opposite. Because the eye globe is shortened, the light focuses behind the retina.
Children whose parents have myopia are more likely to develop it, but it isn’t a cause-and-effect situation. Some children’s ophthalmologists suspect that screen use has something to do with the rise in diagnosis rates, as well.
If you suspect your child may have myopia, look for these symptoms:
- Persistent need to squint or close eyelids to see clearly
- Headaches (due to eyestrain)
- The need to sit closer to the television, movie screen, or the front of the classroom
- Holding books very close while reading
- Not noticing distant objects, like street signs
- Blinking excessively
- Rubbing eyes frequently
Even if your child isn’t showing symptoms, it’s worth having an eye exam at age 6 and as needed at with a children’s eye doctor, to ensure that their eye health is in order.
Myopia – treatment
Myopia sufferers do have a solution – glasses or contacts. For younger children, glasses are a better option, as contacts can be difficult to use. Our optical shop in Livingston has a wide range of children’s glasses to ensure that they find something they like and will wear.
What’s interesting is that researchers are starting to investigate other ways of treating myopia and stopping it from worsening. Although there is still no cure, solutions like atropine eye drops, multifocal contact lenses, orthokeratology, and multifocal eyeglasses are gaining traction in the vision community. Our children’s eye doctor can advise you if any of these solutions would be possible for your child.
Optical shop Livingston – For children
Whether your child has myopia or hyperopia or is suffering from other vision problems, our children’s eye doctor at Pediatric Eye Associates is here to help. From diagnosis to frame selection and fitting at our kids’ optical shop in Livingston, we have everything your child needs to see better!