There is little doubt that the amount of short sightedness in children is rapidly increasing right across the world and most experts believe that the reason for this is the amount of near and particularly screen based activity children are now doing.
We can see short sightedness rising, but conventional optometry offers little in the way of trying to prevent short sightedness in children. The basic plan for most optometrists is, “Just wait until you are blurry, and then I will give you glasses for seeing distances.” However, what they don’t tell you is that, if we follow conventional treatment, there is an extremely high chance that the prescription will increase every year as the child grows, and that their dependence on their glasses will also increase.
In essence, we are growing myopic or short sighted kids, and millions of children are destined for full time dependence on glasses or contact lenses, or even laser surgery.
But as a behavioural optometrist, I am passionate about combating short sightedness in our kids, and have discovered some amazing keys to helping this increasing condition.
So What is Short Sightedness?
Short sightedness occurs when the eye length is too long for the optics of the eye, so distant objects appear blurry, but near objects are clear and comfortable. Traditionally, bookworms, computer geeks and anyone who concentrates for long periods of time may end up short sighted. What we did not expect is that all of our kids would go shortsighted too!
With the invention of the smart phone, ipod, ipad and hand held games, children 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 stop and go outside and play is a difficult task!
This is common right across the developed world, and while we all love the technology, we are creating a generation of short sighted kids.
How to Stop Short Sightedness in Children
While many mechanisms are responsible for short sightedness, including everything from genetics to diet, I believe that the biggest factor is the amount of near work children now do, and this is one area we can fight back with!
Asking your child to do less reading or screen based work (or games!!!) is probably not going to happen, but protecting their eyes as they do it can definitely happen. Remember, the aim is to stop the progression of the condition, and taking pressure of kids as they do close work is a great starting point.
In practice, Darin uses reading glasses, bifocals, specialized myopia reducing contact lenses and eye exercises to get the best results, and he has a proven track record of stopping, and sometimes even reducing the short sightedness in kids
At Eye CU Optometrists, we aim to be the most innovative and holistic sunshine coast optometrist, especially in the field of children’s vision, and so Darin is constantly studying and researching better ways to deal with short sightedness in children.
He has just published a book of eye exercises that he uses every day with his patients, and already he is seeing encouraging results in short sightedness reduction and limitation.