Short-sightedness, or myopia in children is increasing around the world. During the past several years there has been a significant increase in global research on myopia, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicting almost 50 per cent of children will be myopic by 2050 (it’s currently 23 per cent).
Myopia is where the eyeball is too powerful or too long, resulting in blurred, far away vision. Close vision may or may not be affected.
Eye health risks associated with myopia can include retinal detachments, early cataracts, glaucoma and macula problems. Many treatment options to slow myopic progression in at-risk patients have been trialled, including specialised bifocal and multifocal spectacles and soft contact lenses, orthokeratology (using hard contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea), and atropine eye drops that relax intra-ocular eye muscles which contribute to myopic progression.
The decision to suggest atropine eye drop therapy is made on a case-by-case basis, with primary consideration given to higher-risk patients. Higher risk factors for myopic progression can include myopic family members, excess eye muscle convergence and a history of myopic progression.
Anyone at risk of myopia, including children, can follow this general advice.
Try to spend two or more hours outside most days (not necessarily in direct sunlight) with appropriate sun protection. For example, actively playing or simply reading under a tree.
Limit near tasks (not including school/work requirements) to less than two hours per day.
Take regular breaks from close work every 30 minutes or so and look away to a more distant object for a minute or two to change your focus and give your eye muscles a rest.
Wear your advised corrective prescription for your eyes.
For further advice and to check on your child’s eyes, book in with your optometrist.
Andrew Christiansen in the owner and an optometrist at Optical Superstore Bundaberg.