Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is one of the largest problems impacting children’s vision in the U.S.
In fact, the number of myopia cases in children has sharply risen in the past decade. In the United States alone, it is estimated that 40% of children are already myopic. By 2050, the world health organization estimates that 50% of the world’s population will be myopic.
Why the Rise in Pediatric Myopia?
Why the rise in myopia? Experts believe that a decrease in time spent outdoors coupled with an exponential rise in screen time is to blame.
Myopia is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetics. Risk factors include:
- Family history of myopia
- Insufficient time spent outdoors
- Increased screen time
How Can You Reduce Your Child’s Risk of Myopia?
The good news? Myopia is very treatable, and if caught early, the progression can be slowed. Here are three things that you can do as a parent to reduce the risk of myopia in your child.
1. Encourage Outdoor Play
Experts advise that children have 90 minutes of outdoor play a day. This may seem hard to achieve, but remember that recess breaks at school count! Outdoor sports are also a great option to help facilitate outdoor time and physical activity.
Sunlight helps to promote healthy eye growth and lowers the chance of nearsightedness in children. Increased time spent outdoors can slow myopia progression and may decrease the risk of new myopia onset by 50%.
2. Limit Screen Time
Screens can be an incredible tool when raising children. Like everything in life though, moderation is key. Too much screen time can have negative side effects in children, not only in terms of their eye health. Experts recommend that parents limit screen time and close up work (reading, homework, etc) to 3 hours a day.
Here are some tips that might help you to reduce screen time in your home…
- Eliminate background TV
- Keep electronics outside of the bedroom
- Don’t eat meals in front of a screen regularly
- Set a time of day where the entire family is all electronic free (this could be during and right after dinner)
3. Schedule an Annual Eye Exam
The saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true when it comes to myopia. Early diagnosis is critical to help slow the onset and progression of myopia in children. Make sure to schedule annual eye exams for your child.
Together We Can Manage Myopia
Myopia is a condition that is easily managed if you follow your eye doctor’s treatment plan and prioritize your eye health. At Mill Creek Family Eye Center, our eye doctors are committed to providing you and your child with cutting edge myopia care.