Given the rapid increase in childhood myopia being seen in the U.S., the American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their guidance on managing myopia in children. Both organizations now recommend children play outdoors more to delay the onset of myopia, and support proactive treatment of myopic children to reduce the progression and eye disease risk associated with higher myopia later in life.
What is Myopia?
Myopia causes blurry distance vision, which can be compensated for with glasses or contact lenses to provide a child with clear vision. However, myopia is caused by an eye that is growing too long and, once started, myopia usually gets worse in children as the eye continues to grow abnormally fast. Higher myopia increases the lifetime risk of serious eye diseases such as retinal diseases and glaucoma.
How Bad is the Myopia epidemic?
In late 2019, the American Academy of Ophthalmology created a Task Force on Myopia, recognizing the importance of this growing disease in children and the potential lifelong impact myopia has on individuals and society. This task force identified priorities of educating other physicians, working with government agencies and health agencies, and educating parents and schools about this issue so that more proactive steps can be taken to help children.
Treehouse Eyes Co-founder, Matt Oerding, was recently interviewed about the prevalence of myopia alongside Dr. William Reynolds of the American Optometric Association and Dr. Emily McCourt, the chief of ophthalmology at Children's Hospital Colorado."Over the last two decades, there's been an increase in myopia or nearsightedness worldwide, not just in the United States. And that corresponds with an increase in near devices, especially digital devices," Reynolds said. Watch the full interview by clicking here.
Myopia incidence is rising in kids. Less time spent outdoors and more time on near work such as reading and device use has led to higher instances of myopia. This is a global phenomenon that is most acute in developed countries, and current estimates state half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.
Can Myopia be Stopped?
There is hope for parents, however, as several treatments are now available that can slow or even stop the progression of myopia in children. These treatments, usually involving a customized contact lens or prescription eye drops, are proven to slow down the elongation of the eye so a child’s vision does not deteriorate as quickly. Parents should talk to their eye doctor about their child’s risk for myopia and if their child is a good candidate for treatment.
You can prevent serious, sight-robbing eye diseases by scheduling your child’s myopia consultation with us today. Visit River Oaks Family Optometry and help your child’s quality of life improve before your eyes!