b y J U S T I N K W A N S E N I O R M A N A G E R M Y O P I A M A N A G E M E N T C O O P E R V I S I O N EARLY Intervention When Your Child Can’t See Clearly – What It Means and How You Can Help
Squinting, sitting too close to the TV, complaints of headaches or fuzzy boards at school — these are all signs that your child may be experiencing vision issues and should see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. At the conclusion of that exam, the eye doctor may tell you that your child has myopia and make recommendations of how to best correct the issue. Upon diagnosis, you may ask yourself and your eye doctor questions like, what is myopia and why does my child have it? Understanding what myopia is and how it affects your child’s long-term eye health is important to making sure it’s being managed appropriately. Myopia & Its Causes Myopia — often referred to as nearsightedness — is a common eye health condition in which the eyeball elongates more than usual, causing light rays to focus incorrectly in the eye, thus making distance vision blurry. Near vision often stays clear in its early stages, but the problem is already there, and progression is on its course. Pediatric myopia has been rising in severity and prevalence for years. More than 40 percent of Americans have myopia, and that number is increasing at an alarming rate, especially among school-aged children. 1 The increasing incidence of myopia can be attributed to different factors and is occasionally the result of a combination of two particular factors: genetics and environment. Family history plays a role in a child’s risk of myopia. If neither parent is myopic,
the chance the child will develop myopia is low. But if one parent is myopic, it increases the child’s chance of developing myopia by 300 percent – doubling to 600 percent if both parents are myopic. Research shows spending more time outdoors lowers the risk of childhood myopia. 2 Exposure to sunlight releases dopamine from the retina. That dopamine slows down the growth of the eye, keeps the eye smaller, and impacts an individual’s likelihood of developing myopia. These days, children are spending more time indoors, often using screens, which also affects how the eye grows and develops. Encouraging your child to get outside more consistently is even more important.
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