Skip to main content
Home »

Paediatric

Childhood Myopia: What It Is and What You Can Do To Help Your Child.

Dozens of parents bring their children into our practices every day for eye exams and other services, and many ask us questions about myopia. While instances and awareness of myopia are on the rise, to help spread myopia awareness we’ve written out the basics on childhood myopia, why it matters, and what you as a parent can do to help preserve your child’s eye health in the long run.

What is Myopia?

Myopia (often referred to as nearsightedness) is the most common cause of impaired vision in people under age 40, and its prevalence in children is growing at an alarming rate.

Myopia typically starts in childhood and progresses (the eye keeps getting bigger), or gets worse, until early adulthood. During this time the symptom of myopia, blurry distance vision, gets worse, meaning the patient needs stronger glasses to continue to see clearly. If blurry distance vision is the symptom of myopia, what exactly is myopia? Stated again, myopia is an eye that is growing too long. How do we know this?

We measure it using special non-invasive technology to calculate the length of the eye from the front (cornea) to the back (retina). This distance is known as the axial length and is measured down to fractions of a millimeter with advanced equipment. So, myopia is an abnormal elongation of the eye.

Risk Factors for Myopia

Myopia risk factors include genetics (having one or both parents myopic), an insufficient amount of time spent outdoors, and excessive near work (time spent reading, school work, & digital screens).

Childhood myopia is progressive, which is why your child may need a new prescription every year or two. Unless treated, a child’s myopia will continue to worsen until early adulthood. What some people don’t realize is that myopia is far more than simply blurred vision — it’s associated with drastically higher risk of developing eye disease in the future.

How Can Myopia Impact a Child’s Health?

Childhood myopia places a child at a greater risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life, as compared to non-myopic children, and the odds only increase as myopia continues to progress.

In fact, a child with myopia is 2 to 40 times more likely to develop myopic maculopathy (also known as myopic macular degeneration, a serious vision-threatening complication) depending on their degree of nearsightedness.

Retinal detachment is another serious eye condition that can cause permanent blindness. A myopic child is 3 to 21 times more likely to develop this emergency eye condition in adulthood.

Moreover, children with myopia have a threefold risk of developing glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness worldwide, in the long run.

And although cataracts are considered a normal part of aging, having myopia advances the age at which they develop. According to a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, individuals with high myopia are more likely to need cataract surgery at an earlier age than those with no myopia.

Furthermore, aside from an increased risk of adult eye disease, untreated myopia can prevent a child from succeeding academically and socially.

A 2019 study published in the Community Eye Health Journal underscores the importance of excellent visual acuity in school-aged children. It found that offering vision correction to students with myopia has more of an educational impact than providing them with vitamins or medications to maintain or improve their physical health.

Myopia has equally serious ramifications outside the classroom. A study published in BMC Ophthalmology (2016) found that adolescents with myopia are more likely to have anxiety than their peers with normal vision.

Furthermore, adverse visual symptoms impact a child’s self-esteem, according to a study published in the Journal of Optometry and Vision Science.

The good news is that certain lifestyle choices, especially when coupled with myopia management treatment, can have a lasting positive effect on your child’s eye health.

What Can Parents Do To Help Slow Myopia Progression?

We know that parents want what’s best for their children. So here are a few recommendations that will help keep your child’s eyes healthy — whether or not myopia has set in.

Take your kids outside to play. Several studies have indicated that children who spend over 2 hours outdoors during the day have lower levels of myopia and slower myopia progression.

A recent study published in BMC Ophthalmology and cited in Review of Optometry (2021) found that for non-myopic children with myopic parents, “a high level of outdoor exposure had a remarkable influence on the risk of new myopia for children even with one myopic parent.”

Although it’s not always easy, try to limit the amount of continuous near work your child does. Whether it’s reading or scrolling through a phone, remind your child to take breaks.

However, the most important thing you can do to protect your child’s long-term eye health is manage their myopia with treatment.

We Can Help Preserve Your Child’s Eye Health

At Treehouse Eyes, our goal is to provide expert care to each and every child with kindness and a smile.

Our state-of-the-art equipment and diagnostic technology enable us to thoroughly assess your child’s visual condition and needs. We offer the latest treatments to manage your child’s myopia and effectively slow down how quickly myopia progresses.

Help your child succeed in school and in activities, and offer them a better overall quality of life with myopia management.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, visit Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses or to see a list of all providers near you visit Treehouse Eyes today.

5 Spooky Things You Didn’t Know About Myopia

Myopia (most often referred to as nearsightedness) affects about one in every three children in the United States and has become increasingly prevalent over the last 30 years.

Myopia is an eye disease that occurs when the eye grows too long—like the shape of a football.  This causes distant objects to appear blurry and increases the risk of serious, sight-threatening eye diseases in adulthood.

As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. By learning these 5 important facts, you may feel encouraged to do more for your child’s eye health and long-term vision—such as ensuring that they get their eyes checked on a regular basis and turning to myopia management to prevent the rapid progression of this disease.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Increased Myopia Prevalence In Children

The significant reduction in outdoor time during the pandemic combined with the surge in screen time has increased the incidence of myopia cases. According to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in Ophthalmic Research (2020), outdoor time helps slow down the change of axial length and reduce the risk of myopia.

Similar results were found in a previous study in Ophthalmology (2013) that investigated the association between myopia in children and adolescents, and the amount of time spent outdoors. The study analyzed over 10,000 children and adolescents aged 20 and under and concluded a substantial correlation between increased time spent outside and the prevalence of myopia. Each additional hour spent outside per week was linked to a 2% reduction in the risk of myopia.

Myopia Increases the Risk of Eye Disease

Those with high myopia and rapidly progressing myopia in childhood are more prone to developing ocular comorbidities or serious sight-threatening eye diseases later in life, such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Myopic Maculopathy
  • Retinal detachment

Myopia is a Progressive Eye Disease

Myopia usually starts in childhood and progresses throughout a child’s school years, eventually stabilizing around ages 18-22.

Since the eye grows in sync with the rest of the body, it’s only natural that it ceases elongating in early adulthood when the rest of the body stops growing. This also means that a child’s growth spurts often coincide with a higher prescription.

Fortunately, myopia can be efficiently treated in order to prevent it from worsening as the child grows. Slowing myopia early in life can make a significant difference in your child’s eye health in their present and future.

Myopia Is An Epidemic

Myopia is a global epidemic that continues to worsen, affecting close to 2 billion individuals worldwide.

If current trends hold, roughly half of the world’s population will be myopic by the year 2050, partly due to genetics and increasingly as a result of our society’s preference for staying indoors and spending more time on digital screens.

Myopia Can Be Treated

Myopia cannot be cured; however, its progression can be slowed or even halted.

The goal of myopia treatment, also known as myopia management or myopia control, is to reduce or halt the eye’s rapid growth. Effective myopia treatment entails more than simply correcting a child’s blurry vision with glasses; it’s meant to prevent a child’s vision from deteriorating and, thus lowering their risk of developing severe myopia-related eye diseases later in life.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, visit Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses or to see a list of all providers near you visit Treehouse Eyes today.

Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) Launches “Little Kid License” Myopia Awareness Campaign

The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) recently launched its “Little Kid License” campaign to continue to raise awareness of childhood myopia and the new treatment options available. GMAC, of which Treehouse Eyes is a member, invited junior racers to the go-kart track for an unexpected eye exam before heading out for some fun!

A recent survey of parents by the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition found ​​”… half of the parents reported their children spent more than four hours using electronic devices each day during the pandemic, compared to 18% of parents reporting the same behavior prior to the pandemic.”

Most children don’t notice anything is wrong with their vision until it starts to really impact their activities. Eye screenings done by a pediatrician are important, but they don’t always pick up on myopia, especially at lower levels. This is why GMAC decided it was more important than ever to raise awareness of myopia and the treatments available. Watch the “Little Kid License” video now:

In the same survey mentioned above, GMAC discovered that “… more than 70% of parents believe their pediatrician will flag any issues related to their children’s eyesight and, almost the same amount trust that their child would say something if they had vision issues.” Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

But, why is this such an important problem to face? Myopia develops rapidly as children grow. Remember, your child’s eye grows like any other part of their body as they age. Since children are prone to growth spurts, naturally their eyes are as well. Myopia occurs when a child’s eyes grow too fast, leading to blurry distance vision and greater risk for eye diseases later in life.

We know the start of the school year is insanely busy with back-to-school activities along with the everyday obligations of work and life, but it’s now more important than ever to find a provider that understands how to diagnose and treat your child’s myopia.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, visit Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses in Albuquerque or to see a list of all providers near you visit Treehouse Eyes today.

How You Can Help Your Child Excel in School This Year

The start of a new school year can be overwhelming, even for the most confident children. That’s why parents are doing whatever they can to help their children successfully transition to the next academic grade. Below, we share our top tips for parents, so they can ensure that their child’s vision is a tool for success in school.

1.   Balance Indoor and Outdoor Time

Outdoor play offers numerous benefits, but many children aren’t getting enough of it. Most children spend much of their time indoors, whether in a classroom, at home, or in after-school activities.

Kids who regularly play outdoors have improved motor skills, feel more independent, and practice important social skills.

But the main benefit of “outdoor time” that eye doctors like to focus on is the lower incidence of myopia (where distant objects appear blurry). Numerous studies published in journals like Ophthalmic Research and Review Of Optometry have shown that children who spend 1.5-2.5 hours per day outdoors during the daytime have a reduced risk of becoming myopic or, if they have myopia, it progresses at a slower pace.

Sending your kids outside to play every day will help their vision, overall health, and contribute to academic success. 

2.   Encourage Your Child To Take Frequent Breaks

Once the new school year begins, students are often busy with daily homework, reading assignments, and visually demanding recreational activities like video games.

While all of these activities are important, they shouldn’t be done without periodic breathers. 

Eye strain is a real concern for the many students who spend hours in front of a book or screen and can put a damper on their grades.

Minimally, have your child follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes they should focus for 20 seconds on an object that’s at least 20 feet away.

Even better, encourage slightly longer breaks for a snack in the sun, or a quick walk around the block to allow their eyes to focus on more distant objects.

3.   Have Their Eyes Examined by an Optometrist

Whether or not your child wears glasses, yearly eye exams will help ensure healthy visual development.

It’s no surprise that children who don’t see well perform at a lower level than their peers. In some cases, young children aren’t even aware that their vision has changed, or they may not be able to verbally express it.

At our practice, our eye exams go far beyond the standard vision screenings offered in school. We thoroughly check your child’s eye health and several visual skills, including visual acuity, focusing, tracking and teaming.

If your child has myopia we will discuss if they are a candidate for myopia management. Myopia management treatments can slow or stop myopia in children and teens and doing so will minimize their risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life.

4.   Filter Out Blue Light

Now, more than ever, children’s eyes are focusing on screens of all shapes and sizes. While science hasn’t yet confirmed the damaging effects of blue light on a child’s eyes, one thing is certain: blue light exposure (especially in the evening) can lead to reduced sleep quality.

Good-quality sleep is crucial for cognitive and physical development, which is why many parents purchase blue light glasses or utilize blue light filters such as screens and software on devices. Blue light also contributes to digital eye strain, leading to symptoms like eye pain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.  If your child uses a tablet, smartphone, or computer before bedtime, speak with us about whether blue light glasses or lens coatings can help.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, visit Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses or see a list of all providers at Treehouse Eyes today.

Corneal Crosslinking: What to Expect

Corneal crosslinking or corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL) is a minimally invasive procedure that can halt or slow the progression of eye conditions such as keratoconus and pellucid marginal degeneration. Corneal collagen crosslinking, using riboflavin and UV light, received FDA approval on April 18, 2016. This is the only treatment that can prevent the condition from progressing. Doctors at Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses can determine if you’re a good candidate for this procedure.

If you’re a candidate for corneal crosslinking, as discussed with your optometrist, it can be exciting to have a method that can keep your eyesight from getting worse. It is also normal to feel some anxiety over the procedure. Here’s what you can expect from your corneal crosslinking procedure.

Preparing for Corneal Crosslinking

Typically, we will treat only one eye at a time. The other eye will have the procedure after several weeks or months. 

Depending on the contact lenses you wear, your doctor may advise you to not wear your lenses for about two weeks before the procedure. 

The Day of Your Corneal Crosslinking Procedure

  • Don’t wear eye makeup, perfume or aftershave.
  • Bring a pair of sunglasses with you to wear after the procedure.
  • Do not have vitamin C before or after the procedure (including in foods high in vitamin C like orange juice).
  • If you’d like, bring a pair of headphones to listen to music or podcasts during the procedure.

During the Procedure 

  1. Your doctor will place drops in your eyes to numb them.
  2. You will then lie back while the procedure is being done. Your eyelid will be kept open during the procedure using a special tool. Riboflavin (Vitamin B12) eyedrops are then applied to your eye. These drops will allow your cornea to better absorb light and will take about 30 minutes to soak into your cornea.
  3. A UV light is then applied for up to 30 minutes and you’ll look into the light.
  4. Your doctor will place a contact lens in your eye to help with healing.
  5. The whole procedure will take about 60-90 minutes. You shouldn’t feel any pain.

After the Procedure

  • You won’t be able to drive. Please make arrangements for someone to pick you up to take you home. Expect to not be able to drive for about a week following the procedure.
  • You may experience some sensitivity to light. Bring a pair of sunglasses with you to wear afterwards and continue wearing while you’re healing.
  • You will be given a prescription for eyedrops to prevent infection. Carefully follow instructions for using them.
  • You may experience some discomfort for a few days. Cold compresses and ice packs may help.
  • For the first few hours you may want to keep your eyes closed and rest. It’s best not to plan any other events for the day.
  • Contact us if the contact lens falls out and don’t try to put it back in. It will be removed at your post-procedure appointment.
  • Don’t rub your eyes for at least 5 days following your procedure. Keep your eyes from coming into any contact with water. Also avoid wearing makeup.
  • Avoid computer screens, television and reading for the first 24-48 hours.
  • Contact your doctor if you experience severe or worsening pain.

It can take several weeks for your eyes to heal and your vision may not be fully functioning during that time. Most people will return to work about a week after corneal crosslinking, but you may choose to take more time. After your doctor has given you approval, you can return to wearing your glasses or contact lenses you wore before the procedure. During this period, you may notice your vision improving, worsening or changing. It should stabilize after about 3 months.

For the 2-4 weeks following your procedure

  • Avoid dusty, smoky environments for the first two weeks.
  • Put off that vacation for at least a month after the procedure and avoid flying.
  • Avoid sun exposure.
  • Stay away from swimming pools and chlorinated water.
  • Avoid makeup for at least 2 weeks.
  • After 3-6 months, you may need new glasses or contact lenses as your vision prescription may have changed.

Doctors at Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses are experienced with corneal crosslinking and assessing patients for the procedure. If you suffer from keratoconus or pellucid marginal degeneration, or your family has a history of these conditions, contact our office for a consultation. We can treat children and adults using corneal crosslinking. Call 505-828-3937 or schedule an appointment online.

The Prevalence of Myopia and Ways To Keep Children’s Eyes Healthy

Researchers have stated that Myopia is one of the most common vision issues affecting children around the world. It has been estimated that by 2050, almost five billion people will be myopic. In 2020, in the U.S.A., it was reported that approximately 40% of the population is myopic compared to only 28% in 2000. Fortunately, in June of 2019, the American Optometric Association (AOA) took action to promote public awareness about childhood myopia and the importance of slowing myopia in children. In 2020, the AOA proclaimed 2020 as the “Year of the Eye Exam” to encourage parents to schedule an in-person eye exam with an AOA family doctor of optometry for themselves and their children.

Helping Our Children Keep Their Eyes Healthy

We live in a digital world where our children need to use digital devices as part of their education, entertainment and to stay connected with us and their friends. Naturally, spending a significant amount of time in front of a screen can lead to digital eye strain which can harm our children’s ocular health. It is extremely difficult to eliminate the use of such devices but it doesn’t mean we can’t encourage our children to develop proper digital device habits to help us protect their vision and overall health. Our doctors at Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses would like to share some practical advice about helping our children keep their eyes healthy:

Limit Screen Time

The average child between the ages of 3 to 5 spends about 2 hours a day in front of a screen. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children in this age group should not spend more than one hour. Consequently, we need to encourage our children to limit their screen time and for older children to take frequent breaks and to develop healthier viewing habits. Currently, there are numerous applications available to help parents manage children’s screen time such as Plano, Screen Time Parental Control, unGlue, Screen Time, Digital Wellbeing and more.

Increase Outdoor Time

Nowadays, we need to ensure that our children spend more time in natural light to help them avoid developing myopia, or to slow down its progression. We need to encourage outdoor activities such as playing sports, going for walks, playing in the park or the backyard and riding their bikes or scooters.

Engage Kids In Non-Digital Activities

By encouraging our children to engage in activities that will take them away from digital screens, we not only lower the risk of myopia but also help sharpen their vision skills. For example, by simply spending time playing with toys which require hand-eye coordination such as puzzles and building blocks or by painting and drawing or even playing catch, you will help your child’s vision grow and develop.

Develop Healthy Eye Care Habits

Helping our children develop basic healthy eye care habits is also extremely helpful in controlling the development of nearsightedness. Here are some habits we should all try to develop to help keep our eyes healthy:

  • When reading, ensure there is adequate lighting and hold the book about 30 cm away from our eyes.
  • If possible, we should choose books with a large print.
  • We should discourage our children from reading in bed and in moving vehicles.
  • Computer screens should be about 20 inches away from our eyes and positioned to avoid glare from the reflection of light sources such as windows and indoor lighting.
  • When watching TV children should sit as far as possible especially if the TV screen is large.
  • Ensure that our children get at least 8 hours of sleep to rest their eyes.

Ortho-K or Orthokeratology Contact Lenses

Ortho-K contact lenses have been found to be very effective in controlling the progression of myopia. This treatment reshapes your child’s cornea while sleeping and therefore enabling him or her to see clearly during the day without needing to wear glasses. Unlike Lasik, it’s not a permanent solution but Ortho-K contact lenses can help slow down the progression of nearsightedness.

Atropine Eye Drops

Atropine eye drops can be used on a daily basis (one drop in each eye at bedtime) for about 2 years to reduce the progression of myopia. These drops do not prevent the development of myopia, they are used to control and limit its development. Children prescribed Atropine must be monitored by their optometrist about twice a year. Atropine eyes drops are only used at 0.01% concentration to avoid side effects such as photophobia, a condition where our eyes develop sensitivity to sunlight or strong lighting.

Annual Eye Check-Ups

Children should have regular eye exams (at least once a year) to ensure their eyes are healthy and developing properly. At Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses, we perform comprehensive testing to determine if children can see clearly and avoid difficulties at school, sports and any other activities. Vision issues can interfere with reading, performance, interest in school, and reaching important educational milestones. What’s more, the possibilities of treating myopia effectively increase when it is diagnosed at an early stage.


For more information about myopia or to book your child’s appointment with our experienced eye doctors at Eyes of NM Family Optometry and Contact Lenses, call us at 505-565-5112 or contact us online.