We are often asked about whether there is anything you can do to reduce the chance of becoming short-sighted. So we’ve compiled some advice on steps you can take, which is especially important for parents to be aware of as their children’s eyes develop.
In the UK, one in three people will end up myopic, the medical term for short-sighted, where objects in the distance appear blurred. Mild to moderate myopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, however high levels of myopia can be far more problematic.
As the degree of myopia increases, the lenses in your glasses get thicker, but more worryingly, the risk of developing additional eye conditions such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataract and macular degeneration increases. Having family members who are short-sighted is a strong risk factor for developing it yourself. While we can’t do anything about our genetics there are steps you can take to reduce the chance of becoming short-sighted (myopic).
Increase the amount of time spent outside each day. Research shows this is the single most beneficial step you can take to reduce the chance of developing myopia. The brightness of natural light and/or the far-off focus is thought to be the reason this is so effective. At least two hours a day is a good target.
Take regular breaks from close work. Look away from close tasks, such as working on a computer or reading, for a minute or so to change focus, or vary tasks every 30-60 minutes to alter the focusing demands on your vision.
Limit additional close work (over and above school or work) to two hours per day. This includes reading, hand held computer games, drawing, homework, computer work, phones and tablets.
Keep your prescription up to date. Research shows that wearing the correct prescription slows the development of myopia, whereas wearing a prescription weaker than you require, speeds it up.
Take vitamin D. There is some evidence that taking a vitamin D supplement can slow establishment of myopia.
Start early. The earlier in life these steps are taken, the best chance they have of making a difference.
Visit our Myopia Management page for further information on the treatment of myopia.