Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is one of the most common vision conditions affecting approximately 30+% of people in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that 20-25 million children have Myopia in the United States alone. With nearsightedness, objects up close are seen clearly while distant objects appear blurry or out of focus. This results when the eye grows too long from front to back measured by the axial length of the eye. The elongation of the eyeball causes light rays to focus incorrectly on the retina resulting in blurry distance vision. While nearsightedness cannot be cured, there are various options for slowing or stopping the progression of myopia (nearsightedness).
What Causes Nearsightedness?
Nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball grows longer than normal from front to back. This causes the light entering the eye to focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it. This results in blurred distance vision, while near vision remains unaffected. Several factors contribute to the risk of developing nearsightedness, such as:
- Genetics – Research shows nearsightedness has a hereditary component. Children are more likely to be nearsighted if one or both parents have the condition vs. none.
- Frequent near work – Activities requiring prolonged close vision like reading and screen use may encourage eyesight to adapt towards nearsightedness over time.
- Excessive screen time – Increased use of computers, smartphones, tablets, and other screens is linked to rising myopia rates, especially in childhood.
- Reduced Outdoor time – Some studies indicate lack of outdoor exposure, natural sunlight, and vitamin D are associated with a greater incidence of nearsightedness.
- Urbanization – Populations living in urban versus rural areas tend to have higher rates of myopia on average.
- Ethnicity – Individuals of Asian descent have a higher prevalence of nearsightedness. Many Asian countries see nearsightedness (myopia) rates of over 80%.
Signs and Symptoms
The primary symptom of nearsightedness is blurred distance vision. When looking at distant objects like road signs, movies, whiteboards, or presentations, it can be difficult to see when nearsighted. This forces the eyes to strain and overwork to bring images into focus. As a result, individuals with uncorrected nearsightedness may experience:
- Difficulty seeing school classroom boards
- Squinting or leaning forward to see distant details such as the score of a game
- Headaches from excessive eye effort
- Eye fatigue after close work
- Poor night vision or problems driving at night
Typically, both eyes are affected, though not always to the same degree. The blurry distance vision worsens gradually over time in most cases.
Impacts of Uncorrected Nearsightedness
Allowing nearsightedness (myopia) to remain untreated can lead to several problems for your child. Myopia usually progresses over time, resulting in greater blur and dependence on treatment or correction as you age. Constant squinting and eye effort add to fatigue and discomfort, and unclear vision makes reading and seeing whiteboards at school difficult.
There is also evidence that myopia can have social implications, such as extracurricular activities that require distance vision become challenging. Not to mention many career options that have vision requirements. However, all these issues don’t compare to the increased risk of severe eye conditions like Glaucoma, cataracts, and the potential for retinal detachments. The severity of nearsightedness (myopia) typically stabilizes by adulthood. However, getting your child’s vision treated early provides significant benefits for eye health, visual development, and quality of life.
Treatment Options for Nearsightedness
While nearsightedness itself cannot be reversed or cured, there are effective treatment options for slowing or stopping the progression of myopia. The best option will depend on the severity of nearsightedness, lifestyle needs, age, and overall eye health of your child – all of which are taken into account when getting treatment with a Treehouse Eyes provider.
- Overnight Contact Lenses – Specially designed contact lenses are designed to be worn at night only, put in right before bed, and taken out in the morning. Called KIDS lenses, these custom contact lenses gently and comfortably reshape the front surface of the eye during the night, with an effect that lasts all day. These lenses are customized for each child to fit their eye and are designed to help reduce the progression of myopia.
- Daytime Soft Contact Lenses – These customized contact lenses are designed to be placed on the eye in the morning and removed each night. They have a special optical design to reduce the progression of myopia while providing clear vision during the day. This treatment allows children to be free from glasses all day while providing excellent comfort and vision for all their activities.
- Prescription Eye Drops – Another treatment alternative is a prescription eye drop, formulated to a specific concentration known to reduce the progression of myopia. These drops are applied at night before bed, according to the schedule your Treehouse Eyes doctor recommends. The child wears glasses or contact lenses during the day. This treatment is excellent for families concerned if their child is ready for a contact lens treatment, and often used for younger children or those showing rapid progression.
Keeping Nearsightedness (Myopia) Under Control
Below are some helpful tips you can start using right now to help slow the progression of your child’s nearsightedness.
- Reduce near work and screen time for children and take frequent visual breaks
- Increase time outdoors and exposure to natural sunlight
- Ensure proper use and wear of prescribed vision correction
- Eat a diet rich in eye-healthy nutrients like vitamins C and E
- Get yearly comprehensive eye exams to establish a baseline and monitor for changes
The Importance of Eye Exams
Nearsightedness develops gradually over time but can accelerate quickly if not monitored. Routine eye exams allow early detection and treatment. Annual comprehensive exams are recommended for:
- Children and teens showing signs of vision issues
- Individuals with a family history of high myopia
- Those with existing myopia require close monitoring
Let Treehouse Eyes Help Your Child Manage Myopia
Treehouse Eyes’ doctors use modern equipment to develop personalized treatment plans for your child. Our treatment plans include special prescription eye drops and customized daytime and overnight contact lenses. Treehouse Eyes doctors determine which treatment plan works the best for your child at your initial consultation. Schedule a consultation now to find out more.