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Myopia | or Nearsightedness | in Children

April 08, 2018

Myopia | or Nearsightedness | in Children

Worldwide studies show an increase in myopia (nearsightedness) in school-aged children. Not only is this is due to genetically inherited issues but, unsurprisingly due to a massive change in their environmental behaviours (American Association of Ophthalmology).

We live in a digital age where electronic devices are of part of everyday life. We see more and more kids use iPad’s in schools, T.V.’s for entertainment and Phones for connection. These essential lifestyle tools, however, have a negative impact on the eyesight of our children.

The habit of holding devices in such proximity to their faces have caused kids to replicate this behaviour with their reading, writing and other focus based activity. This practice is the most significant influence on the deterioration of their eyesight.

Good vision and healthy eyes are critical for success in school, 80% of all academic learning is done visually. The scary thing is children who live and learn like this have no frame of reference to identify visual irregularities. They are so used to seeing blurry details without the back-light of a device supporting their eyes that they believe this is normal.

This behaviour left unmanaged is having a lasting effect on their eye function and general motor skills. Other activities like sports and physically demanding tasks are becoming less practised by kids in general, and this is becoming the cause of many other issues as well. The emotional impact and self-esteem to name a few.

Regular eye testing, beyond the routine school checks, is advised. They are more comprehensive and can rule out any visual impairments. If their eyesight display any problems these can often be rectified by glasses. If not you as the parent will be informed of any severe disorders and armed with how to treat them.

Knowledge is always power, and regular eye tests are essential for your children’s development. Undetected visual issues may also be misdiagnosed as academic or behavioural problems by teachers, so making the time for a comprehensive eye test is worth your investment. 

Signs to look out for:

  • Short attention span
  • Squinting to see                                                         
  • Difficulty reading work on the blackboard
  • Making mistakes when copying work from blackboard to workbook
  • Poor handwriting
  • Complaining of eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Delayed progress or difficulties in school
  • Avoidance of reading activities or lose their place often when reading

How can we decrease children developing Myopia?

How can we decrease children developing Myopia?
Increase outdoor free play. This generation of children is confined to classrooms, smaller living spaces and less direct contact with the outside world.

Unstructured play is vital to children’s development not only for physical health but for their emotional and mental health as well. Studies show it is the exposure to natural light and not only time away from screens and books that are important for eye development (College of Optometry, Ohio State University).

Ensure children’s eyes are protected during outdoor play, use hats and teach them not to look directly into the sun.         

These small changes can have a considerable impact on the longevity of your children’s sight. Love your eyes and love theirs too.