(BPT) - Eye exams are important for children not only for general eye health but also because nearsightedness in children has increased dramatically in recent years1. Also called myopia, this eye condition means that while you can see objects close to you clearly, objects that are further away are blurry. It often begins in childhood and adolescence and worsens to about the age of 20. According to one recent study of more than 120,000 children, the prevalence of myopia increased up to three times in 2020 compared to the previous five years and was especially noted in children ages six to eight2.
What causes myopia?
Myopia happens when the length of the eyeball grows too long, or the cornea (the transparent part of the eye that covers the iris and pupil) is too curved, causing the light that enters the eye to not focus properly on the retina (the sensory layer within the eye). While family history is a part of it—a child has a one in three chance of developing nearsightedness if one parent is also nearsighted3—lifestyle factors also play a role. Spending a great deal of time indoors4,5, using your near vision (looking at things close up) a lot through reading and having lots of screen time with devices like tablets or smartphones6, and poor lighting7 can all also contribute to the development of myopia. So, what’s one of the unintended outcomes of the pandemic’s extra indoor time, more-than-usual screen time, and at-home online learning? It’s a significant uptick in kids with myopia8.
What are the signs and symptoms of myopia?
A child with myopia may talk about far-away objects looking blurry or not being able to see a TV screen, movie screen or school whiteboard. They may squint often, blink a lot, rub their eyes frequently or seem to be unaware of distant objects. Sometimes, headaches occur due to eyestrain. However, because a child may think blurry is just normal, they may not mention any issues at all. That’s one reason it’s essential to have regular checkups with an eye care professional who can identify potential problems.
While fuzzy vision can lead to challenges at school or during sports and other extracurricular activities, untreated myopia can also lead to serious sight-threatening eye health issues later in life, including glaucoma and cataracts8. To see what the world looks like with myopia, check out this myopia simulator.
Regular eye health and exams
Fortunately, taking action by treating myopia while your child is young goes a long way in reducing risk down the road. For example, relaxing and playing outdoors, going to bed earlier, using proper lighting, and regular breaks from near-vision activities like reading and screen time are all good for eye health. An annual eye exam with an optometrist is a fast and effective way to detect various eye conditions and vision problems—not just myopia—so be sure to make that part of your back-to-school planning. Set your child up for a bright, clear future!
New contact lenses for kids
Ordinary prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses can help your child see distant objects more clearly right away, but unfortunately, they do not reduce the progression of myopia. There is good news, though: There is now a dual-purpose product that can do more—CooperVision’s MiSight® 1 day contact lenses provide clear vision and help to control the progression of myopia in age-appropriate children9.
†Compared to a single vision 1 day lens over a three-year period. §Children aged 8-12 at the initiation of treatment. ¶No clinically meaningful change in refractive error -0.25D or less from baseline. µ95% - 100% of children expressed a preference for contact lenses over glasses at each visit over 36 months ±Overall experience as defined as children's comfort, vision, lens handling, and freedom from spectacles. Children aged 8-15 years.
Indications and Important Safety Information. Rx only. Results may vary.
ATTENTION: *USA Indication: MiSight® 1 day (omafilcon A) soft (hydrophilic) contact lenses for daily wear are indicated for the correction of myopic ametropia and for slowing the progression of myopia in children with non-diseased eyes, who at the initiation of treatment are 8-12 years of age and have a refraction of -0.75 to -4.00 diopters (spherical equivalent) with ≤ 0.75 diopters of astigmatism. The lens is to be discarded after each removal. Warnings: Problems with contact lenses could result in serious injury to the eye. Do not expose contact lenses to water while wearing them. No overnight wear. Patients should exercise extra care if performing potentially hazardous activities. Adverse events: Including but not limited to infection/inflammation/ulceration/abrasion of the cornea, other parts of the eye or eyelids. Some of these adverse reactions can cause permanent or temporary loss of vision. If you notice any of the stated adverse reactions in your child, immediately have your child remove the lenses and contact your eye care professional.