Myopia, or short-sightedness, is an eye condition that affects the clarity of distance vision. People with myopia can usually see clearly up close, but require spectacles or contact lenses to see clearly in the distance.
Myopia affects approximately 15% of the population. It is the most common vision impairment in the world for people under the age of 40.
In recent years, the prevalence of myopia has grown at an alarming rate. If current trends continue, by the year 2050, roughly half the people on the planet (5 billion people) will be myopic.
The onset of myopia is usually around the teenage years, but can occur earlier. Generally, the younger a child is when they first develop myopia, the faster their vision will deteriorate, and the more severe it is in adulthood.
While glasses or contact lenses can correct a child’s vision, research shows that high myopia can place a child at risk of a number of eye problems later in life, including retinal detachment, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Usually, myopia is corrected with glasses or contact lenses, however recent research has shown there are a number of reliable ways to slow the progression of myopia in children. This includes specialty glasses, orthokeratology contact lenses for overnight wear, specialty disposable contact lenses and atropine eye drops.
Other studies have shown the importance of outdoor time (green time). Children who spend more than two hours a day outdoors have a reduced risk of developing myopia.
Healthcare professionals have become increasingly concerned about the impact of lockdowns and home-learning on children in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To counter the effects of prolonged screen time, children (and their parents) should do a screen time self-assessment and devote a portion of their day to green time: time spent outdoors, engaging with nature.
While green time is not a direct cure for myopia, it can provide a helpful balance for the developing child. By increasing time outdoors, you will reduce time on your digital devices – and promote healthy lifestyle habits.
Contact Hansen Optometrists Parkes to discuss the most suitable treatment with our optometrist. ‘We are locals caring for locals.’ www.eyecareplus.com.au/eyeconditions/myopia