Myopia Series (Part 2 of 6)
Is your child at risk of developing progressive myopia?
Research has shown that the prevalence of myopia in the western world has increased from 20% to 40% in the past 25 years and this is even higher in many Asian countries. The WHO have estimated that half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.
Myopia is a condition identified by the WHO (World Health Organisation) as a potential cause of blindness, and already affects over a billion people around the world and this number is rapidly increasing.
Why does myopia occur?
Myopia is usually caused by the eye being slightly too long. In younger children, myopia progresses more quickly because their eyes are growing at a faster rate, leading to higher levels of myopia, stronger glasses and increased risks of poor eye health.
What factors are likely to increase the risk of developing myopia?
Genetics, environment and lifestyle choices can all contribute to the risk of myopia development and progression.
- Increased use of electronic handheld devices
- Spending more time on close work such as reading, playing computer games, drawing or using smart phones and tablets has been shown to result in increased levels of myopia, especially in younger children
- Under or over-corrected vision
- Having incorrect glasses or having no glasses at all (when they are needed) has been shown to promote onset and accelerate progression of myopia.
- A person’s ethnic background can increase the risk. Research suggests a link between Asian ethnicity and faster progression of myopia, with higher worldwide prevalence in this group of people.
- Myopia can be hereditary, and your family background can increase the risk. A person with one short-sighted parent has three times the risk of developing myopia and this increases to six times the risk if both parents are short-sighted.
- Your age of the onset of myopia can affect the risk of myopic progression; the younger you are when you first develop myopia, the greater the risk.
This table summarises the key risk factors in developing progressive myopia:
|Myopic at a young age
|Yes this increase the risk
|One parent myopic
|3x increased risk
|Both parents myopic
|6x increased risk
|Yes, especially East Asian
|Little time spent outdoors
|Yes, especially with increased close visual tasks
|Doing a lot of near work
|Yes, especially with increased use of digital screens
When should I start treatment for my myopic child?
As soon as myopia starts. Evidence strongly suggests that an early intervention is likely to offer the best overall results.
There is published, scientific evidence to show that the rate of progression of myopia can be reduced in some children’s eyes, using various myopia control strategies.
The different options that are currently available are shown below:
- Spectacles for myopia management (normal specs but with special lenses)
- Night Lenses for myopia management (a contact lens worn while you sleep)
- Day lenses for myopia management (a contact lens worn during the day)
It is recommended that any myopia control strategy being used, is continued until the individual is at least 21 years of age, but the child or parents can choose to stop the strategy at any point.
What else can I do to help with the treatment?
Lifestyle approaches can also help reduce myopic progression: 30:30 OUT rule = balanced vision Hold near visual tasks such as digital screen or book more than 30cm away from your eyes, take a break every 30 minutes and encourage more outdoors activities.
Click here to read more about myopia
Click here to watch a short video about myopia