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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Myopia in young children

Child wearing spectacles

Does your child complain of having headaches? Have you caught him squinting at the television, blinking, rubbing his eyes or holding his latest clutch of comics close to his face just to get a better look? If you had, he could have myopia.

Myopia, or shortsightedness, is a visual condition that allows those with it to see objects which are nearby with clarity while more distant objects appear blurred. This is because the images of distant objects are focused in front of the retina rather than on it. The individual's eyeball could be too long from front to back.

Myopia develops most often in children of school-going age and typically worsens prior to stabilising during the individual's twenties.

What Myopia does

The younger your child is at the time of him developing myopia, the more shortsighted he is likely to be in future. With higher degrees in myopia, comes greater risk of developing complications that could lead to blindness or reduced vision in later years.

These complications include greater chances of developing cataracts at an earlier age, as well as the occurrence of macular degeneration, a condition that occurs when the retina degenerates, causing reduced vision.

Other complications such as retinal detachment, which takes place when the inner layer of the eye separates from the eyeball, could also take place.

Possible reasons for developing Myopia

1. Genetic factors
2. Lack of proper diet and nutrition
3. Near work

Of the 3 factors, near work can be considered as the significant cause for Myopia. As children spend considerable amount of time on school work, take home work, enrichment classes as well as spent time on handheld gadgets such as gaming and entertainment devices as well as on hand phones and personal computers, all of which amounts to what is termed as Near work.

Playing Hand Held games

The best way to prevent or at least reduce myopia would be by Naturing good eye care habits.

* Get your child to hold reading material approximately 30cm from his eyes. He should seated in a comfortable chair with good lighting. There should not be excessive light so that a glare is present on either reading material, or his face.

Naturing good eye care habits

* Make sure that when your child watches television he is not lying down but seated at least 2 meters from the screen in a well lit room. The television screen should be at the room's centre and placed at eye level.

* As for PC usage, make sure that your child is at least 50 cm away from the monitor and that the glare from the monitor is adjusted to the minimum. Also, do ensure that other sources of light do not cause unwanted reflections off the monitor's screen. Be mindful that your child is seated upright instead of leaning towards the monitor screen. The screen should be 10 to 15 degrees below eye level.

* keep the time spent on Near work to a minimum. When your child is engaged in near work, encourage him to take a break at 30 to 40 minute intervals. Children can do this by involving in outdoor activity such as a stroll or by spending some time looking at objects in the distance from a window. These short breaks allow your child to relax his eyes and further allow him to return to his books refreshed.

Far - Sighted Advice

* All children should have their eyes screened.

* Take your child to the family doctor or an optometrist if you think he might have a visual disorder. If necessary, your child will be referred to a specialist.

* Ensure that your child's eyes are measured properly for his spectacles as wrong prescriptions can worsen myopia.

* There is no cure - all for myopia at present so be wary of claims to the contrary.

MYTHS About Myopia

Myth 1 : Wearing prescription glasses worsens myopia.
Fact : Refusing to wear properly prescribed spectacles where
necessary can lead to the development of a lazy eye. The
child's vision can be permanently harmed.

Myth 2 : Taking vitamin supplement regularly reduces myopia.
Fact : Provide your child with a balanced diet with adequate
nutrients and vitamins. Overdosing on vitamin supplement
can harm your child.

Myth 3 : Eye exercises and other forms of vision training can
reduce myopia.
Fact : Such exercises relax the eye and are part of good eye care habits but do not correct myopia.

Tackling MYOPIA

There is no cure for Myopia. However, if your child does have this visual condition, there are a number of options from which he can choose in order to see better. Note however, that he might not be able to pursue some of these until he is older.

Prescription Glasses

At present, the most common care available for those with myopia, and particularly for young children with the condition, is the prescription of minus lenses. These prescription glasses provide clear vision for your child by focusing rays of light further into the eye so that a clear image is displayed on the retina. However, as the degree of your child's myopia changes, you will have to take him on annual checks to ascertain if he will need to have his lenses changed.

Contact Lenses.

Contact lenses can be an alternative to prescription lenses for children who are shy or refuse to wear glasses in public and at school. However, ascertaining when your child is ready for the responsibility of caring for their contact lenses appropriately should be a key priority for parents who choose this option.

Laser surgery

Laser surgery is not recommended for children as the child's myopia may not have stabilised before the surgery is done. Thus, this may result in repeat surgeries. Moreover, children's eyes are also more prone to inflammation induced by laser surgery.

Look out for your child's vision by encouraging good eye care habits and regular eyesight screenings.

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Blogger christina said...

We just returned from the eye dr. My 13 year old, who is active in sports has myopia. So, he doesn't want to wear glasses so we tried contacts. He can't get them in his eyes. Any suggestions for that??

March 27, 2008 at 4:49 AM  
Blogger Bubbles said...

HI Christina,
Thanks for your comments.
Other than spectacles and contact lenses, the other option is Laser treatment. You could check with your eye Dr. if that is advisable for your son.
My personal suggestion is that you explain to your son the importance of wearing specs, especially stress than a keen eye is important in games. If he is afraid of dropping his specs, there is a string that could be attached to his specs (Can't quite get the name).
Hope you find my suggestion helpful.

March 27, 2008 at 10:27 PM  

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