child wearing eyeglasses

January 28, 2020 2 min to read

The global epidemic of myopia in children

Category : Health

Myopia is a refractive error that’s commonly referred to as near-sightedness or short-sightedness and most often develops between the ages of eight and 12.

This widespread cause of poor eyesight hinders the effective range of vision, with objects only appearing clear and in focus when nearby. With increasing severity of myopia, the closer objects have to be held to be in focus.

Although myopia often develops at a young age, it becomes significantly worse during puberty as the body experiences rapid periods of growth.

If you’re an adult with myopia, laser eye surgery is highly effective in removing the need for glasses or contact lenses.

LASIK works by creating a small flap in the upper layers of the cornea. Once exposed, a laser is used to remove some tissue, reshaping the cornea. PRK is an alternative and works by reshaping the cornea without firstly creating a surface flap.

Myopia affects nearly half of young adults in the US and Europe which is double the prevalence compared to half a century ago. Up to 90 percent of teenagers and young adults suffer from the refractive error in Asia, with an alarming 96.5 per cent of teenage men suffering from short-sightedness.

What’s particularly worrying is that myopia is being diagnosed earlier in school children and rising in severity.

A child with one short-sighted parent is three times more likely of developing progressive myopia or six times more likely if both parents are myopic.

Progressive myopia is dangerous because it continues to worsen year after year and is associated with the onset of retinal detachment, glaucoma and cataracts in later life.

However, we’re experiencing an increase of children and teens with no family history of myopia being diagnosed with the condition.

What are the symptoms?

Besides blurred vision at a distance, there are several symptoms to look out for if you suspect that your child has myopia:

– Excessive blinking
– Headaches
– Constant rubbing of the eyes
– Squinting
– Being oblivious to objects at a distance

As a parent, it’s essential to stay mindful of these symptoms because your child’s education could suffer as a result of them struggling to focus at school.

Although we currently don’t understand why myopia happens, we do know that focusing the eyes on nearby objects for extended periods of time will increase the risk of developing short-sightedness.

What causes myopia?

Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long, which causes light rays to focus in front of the retina rather than directly its the surface.

For each extra 1mm of eyeball length, the patient will suffer from almost three dioptres of short-sightedness.

If you’re concerned that your child is showing symptoms of myopia, you must take them to be examined by an optometrist, particularly if you’re a parent with near-sightedness…
 
Continue reading the article and learn more about myopia in children on Tammy Broccas’ blog.
 
 

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