Short-sightedness in children (also called myopia or nearsightedness) is rapidly increasing right across the world, with most experts believing that the amount of concentrated close (and particularly screen based) activity kids are now doing is the reason for the increase.
We can see the numbers of nearsighted students rising, but traditional optometry offers little in the way of trying to prevent this short-sightedness in children. The basic plan for most optometrists is, “Just wait until the distance is blurry enough, and then I will give you eyeglasses to help your eyesight, but you will find yourself wearing them fulltime.”
However, studies show that if we follow conventional treatment, there is an extremely high chance that the thickness of the lenses will increase every year as the child grows, and that their dependence on their eyeglasses will also rise.
Ask anybody who has worn a full-time correction since they were a child and they will tell you that every year they went back to the optician they got a stronger script because they were more nearsighted than previously.
As a Behavioural Optometrist I for one thought this was all bad, so I set out to do something about it!
In essence, we are growing myopic or nearsighted kids, and millions of our children are destined for complete dependence on glasses or contacts, or even laser surgery.
I am passionate about combating the growth of nearsightedness in our kids, and have discovered some amazing keys to help fight this rapidly increasing condition.
So What is Short Sight?
It occurs when the eye length is too long for the optics, so distant objects appear blurry, but near vision is clear and comfortable.
Traditionally nearsighted people were thought to be bookworms, computer geeks and anyone who concentrates on close work for long periods. What we did not expect is that all of our kids would go myopic too!
With the invention of the smartphone, iPod, iPad and handheld games, our kids are doing more near centred activity in their day than ever before! Ask any parent and they are likely to relate a story of how their kid can do amazing things on a computer or tablet, and how getting them to go outside and play is a difficult task! In essence, our children rarely if ever look into the distance, but constantly gaze at small computer screens. It might be improving their minds, but for vision, it is not beneficial.
This is common right across the developed world, and while we all love the technology, we are creating a generation of nearsighted kids.
Here’s How to Stop Short Sightedness in Children
While many mechanisms are responsible for nearsightedness, including everything from genetics to foods, I believe that the biggest factor is the amount of regular close work people now do, and this is the area we need to start the treatment in!
Realistically, banning them from reading or screen-based work (or games!!!) is probably not going to happen (who can blame the? I love my Ipad and phone too!) However, we do have the ability to support their eyes from going nearsighted whilst allowing them to continue to use technology. Remember, the aim is to stop the progression of the nearsightedness, so finding a way of taking the pressure off kids as they do close work is a great starting point.
In our practice, I offer treatments which range from reading glasses and bifocals to specialized, myopia reducing contact lenses and exercises. These are so effective that we now have a reputation for stopping, and sometimes even reversing the amount of myopia in school kids.
At Eye CU Optometrists, we aim to be the most innovative and holistic sunshine coast optometrist, especially in the field of developmental vision, and so Darin is constantly studying and researching better ways to deal with short sightedness in children.
Darin has just published a book of vision therapy treatment that he uses every day with his patients, and already he is seeing encouraging results in myopia reduction and limitation.
So if you are looking for a Sunshine Coast Optometrist who is trying to stop and even reduce short sightedness in children, we’ll see you at Eye CU Optometrists!