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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.