According to the National Eye Institute, research has indicated that myopia is on the rise. While myopia affects all ages, it is typically first diagnosed in children and teens. Myopia may be inherited from one or both parents who have the condition. It can develop as a result of excessive reading or focusing on close objects, such as a monitor screen. You do not need to banish the video games or the e-reader entirely, however. There is another proactive measure that you can enlist to reduce the chances of myopia development before your child complains that he or she cannot read the classroom whiteboard.
What Does Myopia Mean?
Myopia is more commonly known as nearsightedness. Individuals who have the condition are able to clearly view objects that are in close proximity, but objects that are viewed from a distance appear blurry. Myopia occurs because either the eyeball is abnormally elongated, or the cornea, which is the clear outer surface on the front of the eye, is abnormally curved, and light cannot pass through the eye correctly. Myopia is diagnosed through a routine vision examination and is corrected with prescription eyewear. While genetics have some influence over whether or not an individual will develop myopia, environmental factors also come into play. You cannot do anything about your child's genetic makeup, but you can alter one important environmental contributor. To do so, you will need to kick your little couch potato out of the house, at least for a little while, each day.
Knowing that myopia diagnoses have increased in number over the years, think about what has changed in the everyday lives of children. Do you remember when kids used to wile away their respites from school by spending much of the time outdoors? Whether they were riding their bicycles or playing a game of softball in the backyard with their friends, they spent more time in an environment that provided their eyes with scenes of distant scenery and wide scopes of vision. In the electronic age, their recreational pursuits shifted to indoor activities in which their visual focus is honed onto objects that are much closer to their eyes. The sharp increase in time spent in front of televisions, computers and mobile devices puts added strain on their eyes. This condition, known as digital eye strain, is further exacerbated by the exposure to blue light waves that are emitted from digital screens. The combination can elevate your child's risk for developing myopia.
Outdoor Optical Therapy
Getting your child out of the house and into natural light for some outdoor physical activity can not only avert the onset of myopia, but it can also slow the condition's progression if your child has already been diagnosed. As myopia progresses over the course of an individual's lifetime, risks increase for such conditions as retinal detachment, glaucoma and, in severe cases, cataract formation. To preserve your child's vision, restrict indoor time with the screens and encourage him or her to engage in outdoor activities on a daily basis instead. Some ideas to get your child outside include the following:
- Help your child to discover a physical activity that he or she enjoys, such as cycling, skating or participating in an outdoor team sport.
- Organize outdoor excursions that you can enjoy with your child, such as hiking or walking the family dog around the neighborhood.
- If your child enjoys taking pictures, nurture and encourage that hobby by providing fun outdoor photography assignments, such as photographing nature scenes, wildlife, city street scenes or unique architecture. Be sure to provide a real camera instead of a mobile device that offers too many distractions to defeat the purpose.
Once children start school, the American Optometric Association recommends that they receive routine eye examinations from an optometrist every two years. If your child complains of headaches or demonstrates signs of straining to see distant objects, do not delay in having his or her eyesight evaluated sooner. Click here to read more.