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Myopia in Children: How to Reduce the Severity & Progression

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Is your child squinting to look at the TV screen across the room, or having trouble reading off the board at school? If you answered yes to either of those questions, your child may be suffering from Myopia, or what is more commonly referred to as nearsightedness. 

Luckily, your child is not alone, as myopia is one of the most common vision problems in childhood, with about 9% of children suffering from this condition

If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from myopia, book an appointment with us today to discuss treatment options and what we can do to help your child control their myopia

What is Myopia?

Myopia is a condition of the eye that causes blurry vision when looking at distant objects or images. This is usually developed during childhood as a result of the eye growing irregularly, causing the eye to focus on an image at the front of the retina, instead of directly on the retina like it is supposed to. 

Unfortunately, myopia does not only mean blurry vision, and can lead to higher risks of developing other vision-threatening eye diseases in the future. 

The good news is, with regular eye exams, eye disease management and myopia control, your child’s myopia can be treated, helping them to regain clear vision, while decreasing their risk of developing further vision problems. 

Common Symptoms of Myopia in Children 

Unfortunately, children rarely report vision problems unless they’re severe. That’s why you need to be able to recognize the telltale signs that your child is suffering from vision issues. If you notice any of the following symptoms your child may be suffering from myopia: 

  • Squinting or closing one eye
  • Moving closer to or sitting near objects they are trying to pay attention to, like the TV
  • Excessive clumsiness or a noticeable increase in ineptitude
  • Poor academic performance 
  • Complaints of headaches, pain in the eyes, or sensitivity to light

When to See a Doctor

It is best to see an eye doctor if you notice that any of the above symptoms are persistent, getting worse, or causing your child regular discomfort. Even if your child has no symptoms, they should receive an eye exam at least once a year. 

A child with glasses looking closely at a smartphone at a desk

Causes of Myopia

As your child grows, their eyes continue to grow too. If the eye’s axial length is growing improperly, it can cause myopia to develop and worsen over time. Your child’s myopia can be caused by several factors including:

Wearing Glasses Too Often

If your child has low myopia, it is best to only wear glasses when necessary. Wearing glasses too often can potentially lead to myopia worsening. Of course, if wearing glasses is unavoidable for your child, this is a factor that cannot be controlled. 

Natural Eye Growth

As your child’s eyes grow and change shape, myopia can progress. The eye usually stops growing when your child reaches about 20 years old, which is when you can expect the progression of myopia to slow.

Genetics

If either one of a child’s parents suffers from myopia, they have a higher chance of developing the condition themselves. 

Too Much Screen Time

These days, most children spend a lot of time using digital devices. Too much time spent looking at a screen can place a lot of stress on a child’s focusing skills, which can lead to myopia progression.

Too Much Time Spent Doing Near-Vision Tasks

Near-vision tasks include any task that is done by focusing the eye on a close image or object. This can include reading, writing, drawing, or screen time. Spending too much time doing near-vision tasks can potentially progress myopia in a developing eye.

Not Enough Time Spent Outdoors

A good way to ensure that your child’s eyes have a chance to take a break from near-vision tasks is by allowing them lots of outdoor playtime. Not only does this give the eye muscles a chance to relax, but it varies the type of vision work your child is participating in. 

Can Myopia be Prevented?

Although myopia cannot be fully cured or prevented, there are many ways that you can reduce the severity and slow the progression before it becomes too serious, such as:

  • Paying attention to the above causes and risk factors. Knowing what causes myopia to develop and worsen is the first step in prevention. Limiting screen time, varying the type of vision tasks your child does, and making sure they take breaks from wearing their glasses (if applicable) can all slow the progression of myopia.
  • Scheduling annual eye exams are a crucial part of ensuring the long-term eye health of your child. Not only will your eye doctor check for eye disease, but they can give you advice on prevention methods suited to your child’s specific needs.

How is Myopia Treated?

If your eye doctor diagnoses your child with myopia, there are several treatment options available to you:

  • Contact lenses or specialty lenses 
  • Prescription eyeglasses 
  • Refractive surgery (only necessary in severe cases)

The best way to find a treatment that is right for both you and your child is to book an appointment and discuss a treatment plan with your doctor that is best suited to your child’s vision needs.

Written by Dr. Aaron Sako

Dr. Sako, who was born in Santa Monica and raised in Cerritos, first joined the La Paz Optometric family in 2001. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences in 1995 from the University of California Irvine, before earning his Doctor of Optometry, graduating with honors in 2000 from Nova Southeastern University in South Florida.

Dr. Sako’s current areas of focus are primary care, surgical consultations, surgical co-management, and specialty contact lenses. He is also glaucoma certified and is licensed in the use of therapeutic and diagnostic pharmaceutical agents. Dr. Sako has extensive clinical experience and training, and spent time at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida and the Aker Kasten Cataract and Laser Eye Institute in Boca Raton, Florida, before joining the La Paz Optometric team.

Dr. Sako is an affiliate member of a prominent Orange County laser center, allowing his patients to benefit from his unique understanding of LASIK, which he, himself, has undergone. He has also co-managed thousands of refractive procedures. A proponent of lifelong learning, Dr. Sako is also certified in Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT), which is a non-surgical option for correcting nearsightedness, which involves patients wearing specialty contact lenses during sleep.

Dr. Sako is a member of the American Optometric Association, the California Optometric Association, the Orange County Optometric Association, the Orange County Optometrist Club, and the Asian American Optometric Society. He is currently a member of the executive board for the Asian American Optometric Society and has been since 2004. He is also a member of the prestigious Advisory Board to Vision Laser Eye Centers in Newport Beach, California.

Dr. Sako believes in the importance of community service and always striving for excellence. This former Eagle Scout is currently an active member of the Mission Viejo Rotary Club and provides charitable annual eye exams and care through this organization to children in Baja, Mexico.

Dr. Sako lives in Ladera Ranch with his wife, Mako, and their three children Skylar, Payton, and Colby. When he is not helping patients, Dr. Sako enjoys exercising, skiing, playing golf, and spending time with friends and family. He also has a keen interest in music, and enjoys playing the Tahitian drums and strumming on his ukulele.

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