Nearsightedness, or myopia, occurs when light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of directly on it. This is caused by a cornea that is steeper, or an eye that is longer, than a normal eye. Nearsighted people typically see well up close, but have difficulty seeing far away. As a result, someone with myopia tends to squint when viewing far away objects.
Nearsightedness affects males and females equally, and those with a family history of nearsightedness are more likely to develop it. Nearsightedness often develops in school-aged kids or teenagers, and progresses during the growth years, requiring frequent changes in glasses or contact lenses. It usually stops progressing as growth is completed in the early twenties. Most eyes with nearsightedness are entirely healthy, but a small number of people with myopia develop a form of retinal degeneration.
What causes myopia?
We are not certain why some children become myopic and others don’t. We do know parents with myopia are likely to have children who are also myopic. Myopia gradually progresses until the child stops growing around age 18 to 21.
Causes may include:
- lack of exposure to daylight
- excessive up-close work, like reading or looking at a phone or tablet
Diagnosing and Monitoring
Children don’t necessarily tell you about their symptoms. It’s best to see your optometrist for regular eye examinations. Children should be tested at 6 months of age, before starting school and annually after that.
Corneal Contact Lenses (ORTHOKERATOLOGY):
Corneal reshaping contact lenses reduce myopia progression by about 50%. A typical course of orthokeratology is an ongoing process to affect the reduction and stabilization of myopia. This will require a constant and precise series of visits and assessments.
Soft Bifocal Contact Lenses
Research suggests that these contact lenses also likely slow myopia progression by about 50% by bending light similarly to that with corneal reshaping. They are designed to produce a specific area of peripheral defocus. This specialized design is used exclusively for myopia control.
Spend Time Outdoors
Children who spend more time on “sports and outdoor activity” are less likely to become myopic. It has been theorized to be related to increases in the retinal dopamine or increases in systemic vitamin D levels. Spending more time outdoors is only helpful for preventing myopia development, not slowing the progression of myopia.