In recent years, myopia, also known as nearsightedness, has become increasingly prevalent among children. This condition, which causes difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly, can have a significant impact on a child’s quality of life and overall eye health. Fortunately, there are steps parents and caregivers can take to prevent it in children.
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What is meant by myopia?
When you have myopia, you will see but distant objects would appear hazy. It happens when the eye’s longer than normal eyeball causes light to be refracted improperly. The image is therefore not focused on the retina but rather in front of it. Referred to as refractive error.
What are the common types of myopia?
There are two common types of myopia called refractive myopia and axial myopia.
Optical surfaces that are overly steep (curvature myopia) or optical media with a too high refractive index (index myopia) are the two main causes of refractive myopia.
The optical system in axial myopia is powered properly, but because the eyeball has grown longer, the focal length has risen and light is concentrated in front of the retina.
What are the different causes of myopia in children?
Working too closely:
The center of the eye is very focused while the peripheral vision is defocused while we are engaged in close-up activity like reading or using a smartphone. Myopia can develop if these actions are performed over extended periods of time. For this reason, it’s advised that we take breaks to gaze at faraway objects after 30 to 40 minutes of close work. Dry eyes and eye tiredness are relieved by this.
A child born to myopic parents is inherently more prone to the condition because myopia is a hereditary feature. In certain circumstances, short-sightedness might start to gradually worsen at a young age and then stabilize as an adult.
Less exposure to natural light:
There are various studies that have proved that children who are exposed less to natural light are at an increased risk of developing myopia.
What are the signs of myopia in children?
Children with myopia tend to show various signs that parents can look out for. They include:
- Frequent rubbing of eyes
- Constant squinting
- Sitting near to the television or a blackboard in the classroom
- Frequent blinking
- Unaware of objects far away
Reach out to the best eye hospital if your child is showing any of the mentioned signs.
What are the common tips to prevent myopia in children?
Encourage outdoor activities:
Preventing myopia in children starts with getting them outdoors. Spending time in natural daylight has been shown to reduce the risk of developing it. Sunlight exposure helps the eyes release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can slow down the growth of the eye, which is a key-factor in the development of myopia. Encourage your children to engage in outdoor activities such as sports, or even simply playing in the yard.
But remember over exposure to sunlight can lead to tan and sunburn. Before spending a long time outdoors it is important that a child wears protective clothing.
Limit screen time:
Excessive screen time, whether it’s from computer, tablets, or smartphones, can contribute to its development in children. The increased screen time leads to less time spent outdoors and can lead to eye strain and fatigue. To prevent myopia, establish reasonable screen time limits for your child and ensure they take frequent breaks to rest their eyes.
Maintain proper lighting:
Proper lighting is crucial for preventing myopia in children. Ensure that the lighting in your home and your child’s study area is adequate. Insufficient lighting can strain the eyes and increase the risk. Use natural light whenever possible and supplement with well-placed artificial lighting to create an eye-friendly environment.
Promote a balanced diet:
A well-balanced diet is essential for overall health, including eye health. Ensure that your child’s diet includes foods rich in essential nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients support healthy eye development and can reduce the risk. Foods like carrots, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and fatty fish are excellent choices.
Schedule regular eye exams:
Regular eye exams are crucial for myopia prevention in children. An eye exam can detect myopia early, allowing for timely intervention. Make sure your child has an annual eye checkup, even if they do not show any signs of vision problems. Early detection and correction of myopia can help avoid further progress of the condition.
Promote proper reading habits:
Encouraging your child to develop good reading habits can also play a role in myopia prevention. Make sure they hold their books or digital devices at an appropriate distance from their eyes. The ideal reading distance is about 12-16 inches. Additionally, ensure that the reading material is well-lit to reduce eye strain.
Be mindful of genetics:
Myopia can have a genetic component, so it’s essential to be aware of your family’s eye history. If it runs in your family, you should be particularly vigilant about implementing the above tips for myopia prevention in children. Genetic predisposition may increase the risk, but a healthy lifestyle and good eye care practices can still make a significant difference.
How does myopia spread?
Unfortunately myopia rapidly within the first few weeks of development. And when diagnosed in children the condition can have advanced stage myopia. As myopia progresses rapidly from childhood to adulthood.
Preventing myopia in children is essential for their long-term eye health and overall well-being. By following these seven tips for myopia prevention in children—encouraging outdoor activities, limiting screen time, maintaining proper lighting, promoting a balanced diet, scheduling regular eye exams as they can help in early myopia treatment, promoting proper reading habits, and being mindful of genetics—you can take proactive steps to reduce the risk of myopia in your child. Remember that early intervention and healthy habits can go a long way in preserving your child’s vision for a lifetime.