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When Children Can’t See Far

A Discussion About Pediatric Myopia

Myopia – often referred to as nearsightedness – is a common eye health condition in which the eyeball elongates, causing light rays to focus incorrectly in the eye, thus making distance vision blurry. The earlier myopia management starts, the better the outcomes regarding the child’s near- and long-term eye health. In the U.S., 71% of eye care professionals say it is absolutely essential to slow the progression of myopia among children ages 8 – 15 years old.

When Children Can’t See Far: A Discussion About Pediatric Myopia* THE INCREASING PREVALENCE AND SEVERITY OF PEDIATRIC MYOPIA*: More than 40 percent of Americans are myopic and that number is increasing at an alarming rate, especially among school-aged children1. One in four parents have a child with myopia and about three quarters of children with myopia were diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 122. Two-thirds of eye care professionals (ECPs) say the presence of myopia among children in their practice has increased over the past 5-10 years3, and 81% of ECPs recognize it as one of the biggest problems impacting children’s eyesight today3. MYOPIA LEVELS: Though it may begin mildly, myopia may be progressive and may increase in severity from moderate to high myopia if treatment is delayed4. Each level of myopia is defined by a specific diopter (D) range. A diopter is the unit used to measure the correction, or focusing power, of the lens the eye requires. DEFINING MYOPIA: Myopia – often referred to as nearsightedness – is a common eye health condition in which the eyeball elongates, causing light rays to focus incorrectly in the eye, thus making distance vision blurry. 1 Cooper, Y. (2019, May 1). With Childhood Myopia Rates on the Rise, the American Optometric Association Highlights the Importance of Early Intervention through Annual Eye Exams. Retrieved from 2 Myopia: 2018 American Eye-Q Research. (2018, December 20). Retrieved October 2, 2019, from 3 CVI data on file 2019. Myopia Awareness, The Harris Poll online survey of n= 1,005 parents (with child age 8-15) and n=313 ECPs (who see at least 1 child age 8-15 with myopia each month) in U.S. 4 Ocular Surgery News: Concern for Myopia Progression Increases with Alarming Rise in Global Prevalence. Retrieved October 29, 2019 from 4b91-95cd-b7918481de79%7D/concern-for-myopia-progression-increases-with-alarming-rise-in-global-prevalence 5 Cline, D; Hofstetter HW; Griffin JR (1997). Dictionary of Visual Science (4th ed.). Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann. 6 Mayo Clinic. Nearsightedness. Retrieved October 30, 2019 from: 7 Gifford, P., & Gifford, K. L. (2016). The Future of Myopia Control Contact Lenses. OptomVis Sci. 93(4): 336-343. • Genetics – Family history plays a role in a child’s risk of myopia. If neither parent is myopic, the chance the child will develop myopia is low. But, if one parent is myopic, it increases the child’s chance of developing myopia by 3x – doubling to 6x if both parents are myopic7. • Environment – Exposure to sunlight, vitamin D intake, dopamine levels and the amount of time someone spends outdoors have an impact on an individual’s likelihood of being myopic. Research shows spending more time outdoors lowers the risk of childhood myopia7. CAUSES OF MYOPIA: Myopia typically occurs during childhood when the eyeball develops a larger or longer shape, meaning the distance between the front of the eye and the retina at the back of the eye is longer than normal. Blurry vision due to myopia is the result of light rays focusing at a point in front of the retina rather than directly on the surface6. However, the upward incidence of myopia can be attributed to different factors, and is occasionally the result of a combination of these factors: Mild Myopia: -0.50 up to -3.00 D5 Moderate Myopia: -3.00 up to -6.00 D5 High Myopia: -6.00 or higher5 • Cataracts – a clouding of the lens of the eye that can cause changes in vision. Though cataracts can affect everyone as they age, they often develop sooner in those who are myopic10. • Glaucoma – a condition, usually linked to high pressure inside the eye, that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve, potentially causing irreversible vision loss and blindness. Studies show myopic people have a 2-3x greater risk of developing glaucoma10. • Retinal detachment – occurs when the retina, a thin layer of tissue that surrounds the entire inside the eye, pulls away from supportive layers of blood vessels that provide its necessary oxygen and nourishment10. • Macular Degeneration – caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, and is a leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss11. Managing myopia progression by even 1 diopter12: • Reduces risk of myopic maculopathy by 40% • Reduces risk of open-angle glaucoma by 20% • Reduces risk of visual impairment by 20% • Saves between 0.5 and 0.9 years of visual impairment


Please feel free to speak with one of our optometrists if you want to learn more about your options for myopia control for your children. Call: 512-360-8969