If you’re a parent of a nearsighted child, you know that myopia (nearsightedness) can sometimes be challenging. What many parents don’t know is that rapidly progressing myopia is more than just a hassle — it can harm your child’s eye health. Children with rapidly progressing myopia are far more likely to develop potentially sight-threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration later in life.
Fortunately, Dr. Colleen Mitchell and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann can help slow the progression of your child’s myopia with a customized myopia management program. Understanding what causes myopia to worsen and what can be done to slow it down can help safeguard your child’s vision.
What Causes Myopia to Progress?
Genetics play a large role in myopia development. Two nearsighted parents are more likely to have a myopic child than a couple with only one myopic parent, or no myopic parents at all.
No one knows exactly why myopia progresses, but spending most of the day indoors, focusing on near objects like screens and books, may be risk factors. More research is needed to determine whether the fact that children are spending less time looking at faraway objects like a moving baseball or a basketball net might be contributing to the increase in myopia cases around the world.
How Can I Prevent Myopia From Worsening?
One of the best pieces of advice for parents of nearsighted children is to increase their child’s outdoor playtime in the sun. In research studies, the progression of myopia was slower in children who spent a considerable amount of time in the sunshine than in children who did not.
The World Health Organization advises that children under 5 spend 1 hour or less per day in front of a screen, and no screen time is recommended for infants under 1. The Children’s Eye Foundation recommends outdoor play daily, and no screen time for children under 2. They also recommend no more than 1-2 hours per day for 2- to 5-year-olds, with frequent breaks.
How Can a Myopia Management Eye Doctor Help?
Myopia management eye doctors do more than prescribe corrective lenses. Although no actual cure for myopia exists, there are methods that can help control its progression.
Current treatments include:
- Atropine eye drops
- Orthokeratology (“ortho-k”) gas permeable contact lenses
- Multifocal glasses/contact lenses
Following a thorough eye exam, Dr. Colleen Mitchell and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann will determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your child’s eye health and lifestyle. Annual eye exams for myopic children are recommended to monitor any changes in vision. It’s important to note that not all optometrists provide myopia management.
Feel free to speak with Dr. Colleen Mitchell and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann or the friendly staff at Blacksburg Eye Associates and ask any further questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you!
Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, New River Valley, and throughout Virginia.