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Is Childhood Myopia (Nearsightedness) Dangerous?

Myopia (nearsightedness) progression in children is more than just a rapidly changing prescription. Medical research now indicates that myopia progression in children can actually be dangerous. As a child quickly develops and myopia rapidly progresses, the child is at risk of developing serious sight-threatening eye diseases later in life. Namely, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. The faster the progression, and the younger the child, the greater the risk.

To thwart any of these sight-robbing conditions, The Focal Point Optometrist offers evidence-based treatment to prevent the onset or reduce the progression of myopia in our pediatric patients. Our staff works closely with each family and provides personalised treatment programs based on the child’s unique needs.

What Is the Connection Between Myopia and Eye Disease?

Cataracts and Myopia

A child with medium to high myopia is 5 times more likely to develop cataracts in his or her lifetime. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye clouds rendering it difficult or even impossible to see.

Glaucoma and Myopia

Rates of glaucoma increase dramatically in children with myopia. A child with medium to high myopia is 5 times more likely to develop glaucoma — the leading cause of blindness in the United States and Canada. This condition develops when ocular fluid build-up places pressure on the eye, causing irreversible damage to the optic nerve.

Retinal Detachment

Recent research has shown that medium-to-high myopia significantly increases the risk of developing retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is a condition where the retina detaches from the layers beneath it, causing field vision loss, light flashes, floaters and in severe cases — total loss of sight. A child with mild myopia (-4D to -7D) is 21 times more likely to develop retinal detachment, whereas a child with high myopia (-7D and higher) is 44 times more likely to develop this serious condition.

Myopic Macular Degeneration

Myopia is caused by the elongation of the eyeball. When myopia is extremely high, it can cause the retina to stretch, leading tears to form in the macula and bleeding to occur in the areas beneath the retina. This can result in irreversible vision loss and even blindness.

What To Do About Myopia Progression?

boy riding bicycleOne of the best things you can do to slow your child’s myopia progression is to ensure that he or she undergo routine annual eye exams. It’s important that our optometric team monitor the rate at which the myopia is progressing. If your child’s vision is rapidly deteriorating, we can offer various myopia management measures to slow the progression and enable your child to experience a more mild form of myopia than he or she would have otherwise had without treatment.

What is Myopia Management?

Myopia management refers to different techniques to slow the progression of myopia in children and teens. These treatment options reduce the stress and fatigue which are ultimately responsible for deforming the cornea and therefore causing myopia. This, in turn, slows or even stops the development and progression of myopia. The Focal Point Optometrist currently offers several different customised and evidence-based treatment options for effective myopia management.

What Are the Treatment Options for Myopia?

Certain treatments in the form of eye drops, contact lenses or glasses, can help slow down a child’s myopia vision deterioration.

The treatments offered at our practice include:

  • Atropine eye drops
  • Orthokeratology (“ortho-k”)
  • Multifocal contact lenses
  • Multifocal glasses

Over a period of 6-12 months, patients are carefully monitored and reviewed to assess the efficacy of the chosen treatment modality.

For more information, or to learn how to get your child started with myopia management, get in touch with The Focal Point Optometrist, and our staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Myopia Management Eye Test
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 08 9387 8101
Learn More About Myopia Management
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The Connection Between Near Work And Myopia

The steady rise of myopia (nearsightedness) in children around the globe may be alarming—but does it really come as a surprise?

Nowadays, children are spending more time engaging in near work through the use of digital devices and computers, which experts believe, is the driving force behind the myopia pandemic.

Fortunately, with myopia management, even a child that spends most of the time focusing on near objects can mitigate their risk of developing future eye problems.

Below, we’ll explain what myopia is, how near work contributes to the onset and progression of myopia and why parents should act now to protect their children’s vision for the future.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia occurs when light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina instead of directly on the retina’s surface. This could be due to the eyeball being too long or the focusing power too high.

Myopia worsens when the eye grows longer, causing the retina to stretch and strain. This makes the eye prone to serious diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy later in life.

Several factors may contribute to myopia’s onset and progression, including genetics, ethnicity, not spending enough time outdoors and near work.

What’s Considered Near Work?

Near work is defined as any activity that requires focusing on objects within arm’s reach from the eyes: 16-20 in./40-50 cm or closer. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Reading, especially with focused concentration
  • Writing
  • Screen use (tablet, computer, smartphone, etc.)
  • Watching TV or video games from a close distance
  • Playing certain musical instruments (for example, looking at piano keys or reading sheet music)

How Does Near Work Contribute to Myopia?

Numerous studies have assessed the relationship between near work and myopia. A systematic review of 27 such studies found a 2% increased chance of developing myopia with every dioptre-hour of near work time per week.

A dioptre-hour is a term used in research to measure the time spent on near work and how it relates to myopia. For example, one dioptre-hour spent reading is given more weight than multiple hours spent staring at a computer screen at an intermediate distance.

Additional research indicates that taking regular breaks while doing near work may have a positive effect on myopia. Children who engaged in continuous and focused reading had higher levels of myopia than groups of children who took frequent breaks, even if they read for the same amount of time overall.

According to several studies, children who play outdoors in the sunshine have a reduced risk of myopia and myopia progression. In fact, researchers are now investigating whether looking at faraway objects like a moving ball plays a role.

That said, it’s important to note that near work isn’t the only myopia risk factor.

How Myopia Management Can Help

This information isn’t meant to scare parents into removing digital devices from the home, but rather to encourage a balanced lifestyle for the whole family.

Myopia management can significantly reduce your child’s risk of developing serious eye disease later in life, so why wait? The earlier they start, the greater their chance of success. At The Focal Point Optometrist, we provide the latest in myopia control to offer the best possible outcome for our young patients. Myopia treatments include multifocal contact lenses, orthokeratology (ortho-k) and atropine eye drops.

During your child’s myopia consultation, we’ll ask about your child’s lifestyle to determine which treatment option best suits them. We encourage our patients to be honest when it comes to how much time they spend engaged in near work, as it gives us a better understanding of their visual needs.

Myopia management is suitable for children aged 8-12 with any level of myopia, or those who are at risk of becoming nearsighted (if both parents are shortsighted, for example).

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, contact The Focal Point Optometrist today!

Myopia Management Eye Test
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 08 9387 8101
Learn More About Myopia Management
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