If you are short-sighted (myopic) the chance of your child becoming short-sighted significantly increases. We can now slow the progression of short-sightedness by up to 50% using specialised contact lenses in children as young as six.
There have been two significant studies already this year on the alarming increase in short-sightedness (myopia) amongst children in both the UK and the US. The dramatic increase in cases has seen many optical experts draw conclusions as to why this is happening. Children spending more time looking at screens and less time outside being one common conclusion but there are no definitive answers to this growing problem.
What we do know is, if a child has a parent who is short-sighted their chance of becoming short-sighted increases by three times, and if both parents are short-sighted, that figure increases to seven times. This remains the primary predictor that a child will develop myopia. Genetics are not something that can be controlled, however if a child is found to be short-sighted we can act to slow the progression.
We need to make people understand the variations of myopia. Low to medium levels mean that your child will have to wear contact lenses or glasses, an adjustment that many adapt to easily. However, high levels of myopia can lead to serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal detachment in later life. These conditions can cause serious visual impairment. It is the progression to high levels of myopia that we need to halt, and if we can ensure your child’s level stays in the ‘low’ parameters, all the better.
This is the aim of Myopia Management (also referred to as Myopia Control), to ensure that levels stay as low as possible. The time to act is childhood when the eyes are developing quickly. Slowing the progression at this stage could be the difference between low and high levels of myopia. Children in our Myopia Management programme wear specialised contact lenses which aim to slow the progression of myopia or short-sightedness by up to 50%.
What can I do?
If either parent is short-sighted, make a concerted effort to ensure your child’s eyes are examined at least every two years from pre-school. This way any indication that they might be short-sighted can be identified and managed before the condition progresses. And if you know your child is short-sighted and you would like to hear more about Myopia Management, book in to see one of our optometrists who have specialist training in this area.
For further information on Myopia Management can be found here.
Our next blog will look at steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of becoming short-sighted.