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The Dangers of Nearsightedness: Are Our Children at Risk?

An epidemic is emerging – children are becoming more nearsighted (myopic). The percentage of myopic individuals increased as measured in 1972 and in 2010 from 25% of the population to 46%! And, before COVID-19, scientists were predicting that more than 40 million people in the US will be nearsighted by the year 2030.

Nearsightedness (myopia), or the inability to see objects clearly in the distance, is on the rise – in its frequency and its severity. The reason for its escalation has been linked to two factors:

  1. Children who spend more time on activities like reading or using handheld devices instead of spending time outdoors are more likely to become nearsighted.
  2. Children with one or two myopic parents are more likely to be nearsighted.

The traditional approach for treating nearsightedness is to prescribe glasses so the person can see in the distance. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t identify the actual reason why your child is having trouble seeing in the distance, the problem is that each year, the glasses will get stronger and stronger. This increases the risk of the sight stealing eye diseases, glaucoma and macular degeneration – even for children.

The good news is that there are a variety of treatments available to slow down the progression of myopia (nearsightedness). There are different types of specialized contacts that can be prescribed. Your child can either wear these special contacts during the day or a different type of contact lens can be worn while your child sleeps (no glasses or contacts are needed during the day). For younger children, there are special eye drops which can be used to slow the progression.

It is possible to determine how nearsighted someone is with new specialized equipment which takes images of the eyes. This allows us to compare how much and how quickly the eyes are becoming nearsighted.

While many adults often get refractive surgery to correct their nearsightedness, children younger than 18 years aren’t candidates for this surgery because their eyes are still changing. It is important to see an optometrist who has a special focus on treating the progression of nearsightedness.

For more information please give our office a call or visit our website.

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