There is a widespread acceptance that, when we grow older, we are likely going to need glasses or contact lenses. Much of the time, the eye conditions that we discuss more frequently are the ones that occur later in life. But what about the younger population? Children should naturally enjoy good vision, right? One would think so, but myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition that begins early in life and is a common reason that a child needs to wear glasses.
Parents who pass on the genes that lead to childhood myopia, or nearsightedness, may feel awful that corrective lenses are needed at such a young age. There is nothing that can be done at this time to alter the genetic link for this condition. There is, however, something that can be done about unnecessary risks. Today, more than 10 million American children cannot observe objects a certain distance away. At least not without eyeglasses. The number of new cases of myopia continues to grow. In fact, cases are increasing to such a degree that scientists are wondering why. Has our genetics just gotten that much worse in recent years? The answer is no.
You may have noticed a dramatic difference between your childhood and the day to day existence of today’s children, maybe even your children. Many, many years ago, when children became obsessed with the new technology called television, mothers warned young ones that spending hours in front of that screen would “ruin their eyes.” It looks like they were right. We’ll break down . . .
Myopia occurs when the eye grows too long. A too-long shape impairs the direction of light toward the retina, and vision becomes blurred. It seems that the growing eye needs the right usage to develop properly! Historically, children have spent a good amount of time outdoors, observing objects at all distances. This is an exercise for the eye. Today’s children spend much more time viewing objects up close. A computer screen. A book. An iPhone. This type of practice, scientists believe, set the stage for increasing numbers of non-genetic nearsightedness in future generations.
Does this matter? Yes. Myopia not only forces a child to need ongoing management of vision correction, but this condition also increases the risk of adult-onset glaucoma and retinal diseases; conditions that could cause permanent vision impairment.
Protect yours and your children’s eyes with good lifestyle habits and routine eye exams.