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What is Myopia?

What is Myopia?

Myopia, also commonly referred to as ‘nearsightedness’ or ‘shortsightedness’, is a common eye condition which causes blurred distance vision. Myopia is a condition in which light is focused in front of the retina (back of the eye) , resulting in blurred vision. Shortsighted people can often see reasonably clearly at short distances, but will not be able to see distant objects clearly. 

About 80 million children around the world have myopia, and that number is expected to rise significantly by 2050. With so many children affected, and so many more likely to be affected, parents need to understand the contributing factors and treatment options to help slow its progression. 

Myopia is progressive. It will begin as mild but may progress in severity to moderate or high myopia. The earlier myopia starts, the greater chance your child has of developing high myopia. Myopia progression typically occurs between the ages of 6-17 as this is a key growth time for children, and their eyes. Myopia often occurs due to axial elongation. This is where the distance from the front of the eye to the back of the eye grows longer than normal. 

It has been established that managing myopia in its early stages can slow its progression, reducing the potential risk of developing high myopia and its associated conditions later in life. This not only involves correcting the blurred distance vision associated with myopia but also employing treatments and strategies proven to reduce the amount of eyeball growth. 

What can cause child myopia?

There are two main risk factors for a child developing myopia: lifestyle and family history. 

Lifestyle: modern lifestyles may influence the development of myopia. These include:

Low levels of outdoor activity and associated factors including:

–  Low levels of light exposure

–  Prolonged near tasks such as reading and gaming on portable devices 

Family history: the likelihood of developing myopia, particularly high myopia increases when one or both parents are myopic. However, the exact link between a family history of myopia and the development of childhood myopia remains uncertain. 

What to look out for

In many cases, there will be no signs of myopia at all. However, if there are signs, they might include:

  • Your child’s distance vision becoming blurred
  • They move closer to see the television
  • They are squinting or screwing up their eyes

What you can do

Managing myopia early can slow its progression, reducing the potential risk of developing future eye health issues. It is therefore important to have your child’s eyes tested regularly by an Optometrist. If you think your child might be short-sighted, ask one of our Optometrists about solutions that can be used to manage myopia and slow its progression. There are a number of evidence based myopia management options available in Australia which is really exciting news for parents and children.