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 detachments, glaucoma and cataracts, increases.
Having family members who are short-sighted is a strong risk factor for developing it yourself. While we cannot 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. The brightness of natural light is thought to limit the rate of myopia progression. 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 and computer work.
- 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.
- Start early. The earlier in life these steps are taken, the best chance they have of making a difference.
Find out more about Myopia Management – slowing the progression of myopia in children.