As optometrists who focuses on children’s vision, we often see parents who are concerned about their child becoming short-sighted.
Myopia presents with blurry distance vision, but generally gives clear vision at near. In high myopia, even near vision is affected as objects must be extremely close for the eyes to see clearly and the patients cannot read without their glasses prescribed for distance. Parents and teachers will often be able to detect myopia in a child by simply noticing how the child is looking into the distance. Squinting or “screwing up the eyes” is a common behaviour, as well as the preference for bringing ipads and books closer or moving closer to the TV and computers.
Parents are usually concerned about myopia because this usually means your child needs to start wearing galsses pretty much all the time to see clearly in the distance. Although this can understandably be distressing news, as optometrists we are more concerned about the risk factors associated with high myopia. We don’t want to see children develop myopia because we know that patients with greater than -5 dioptres (that’s the number in your glasses) are at increased risk of developing retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma and blindness. The younger they are when they first develop myopia, the higher the chance they will have high myopia.
Sadly, the incidence of global myopia is increasing sharply. The global prevalance of myopia in 2010 was 25% of the world’s population and we expect this to rise to 50% by 2050. Here are some scary statistics of myopia:
- 31% of Australian school age children (Sydney Myopia Eye Study, 2013)
- 96.5% of South Korean 19 year old teenagers (2012)
- 95.9% of Taiwan university students (2008)
- 42% in USA (2009)