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How to Reduce Your Child’s Risk of Myopia

How to Reduce Your Child’s Risk of Myopia 640×350Do you notice your child squinting to read or sitting too close to the television or computer screen?

If so, you’re not alone.

The incidence of myopia nearsightedness has risen dramatically over the past few decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse. According to research studies, the increased amount of time children have spent indoors due to lockdowns, coupled with more time learning and playing on digital devices, has led to what several optometric and ophthalmological organizations are calling an “epidemic.”

According to the World Health Organization, around 30% of the world’s population has myopia, and this figure is expected to increase to a whopping 50% by 2050.

That’s worrying because moderate to high myopia in childhood raises the risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life.

Although many cases of myopia are inherited, there is a growing body of evidence that the less time children spend outdoors and the more time they spend staring at a computer or mobile screen contributes to the onset and/or progression of nearsightedness.

If your child's myopia is progressing at a rapid rate, contact Giddens Optometry in Georgetown today. We can help slow down or halt myopia progression so your child can enjoy a higher quality of life.

What Is The Connection Between Screen Time and Myopia?

While eye doctors have long suspected that excessive screen time can contribute to the development and progression of myopia, they don’t know exactly why.

What is known: when children engage in long hours of “near work” activities such as looking at a computer or reading a book, the shape of their eyes can change from a healthy round shape to an elongated myopic shape.

At the same time, scientists are trying to determine whether the lower incidence of myopia and its progression among children who spend at least 2 hours a day outdoors is due to less screen time, looking into the distance while playing, or perhaps thanks to some inherent benefit of sunshine.

How to Prevent Your Child From Developing Myopia

The ancient Greek expression “moderation in all things” is particularly apt when it comes to managing your kids’ screen time. Here are some tips to protect your child’s eyes:

  • Set a reasonable amount of time per day for screen time, taking homework or school projects into account, and allow slightly more on the weekends.
  • Make it a team effort: involve the entire family in screen time accountability, with each person — including parents — making a commitment to spend less time on-screen.
  • Install apps and software that will set time limits for using video and gaming sites, for example.
  • Pursue non-screen activities as a family, such as trips to the library or park.
  • Schedule annual eye exams for your child.

What If My Child Already Has Myopia?

Although myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses and contact lenses, prescription eyewear doesn’t prevent myopia from progressing. Refractive surgery isn’t an option for children or teenagers because their eyes are still growing. Moreover, rapidly progressing myopia increases the chance of developing macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and other sight-robbing eye diseases later in life.

Fortunately, there's a way to slow or halt myopia’s progression.

Myopia management is a scientifically proven way to reduce myopia progression by as much as 78%, depending on the severity of a child’s myopia, their age and the type of myopia management program prescribed by your child’s eye doctor.

One of the keys to managing myopia and limiting its severity is diagnosing it early. Safeguard your child's vision by scheduling an evaluation withGiddens Optometry in Georgetown today.

Our practice serves patients from Georgetown, Limehouse, Acton, and Halton Hills, Ontario and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ben Giddens

Q: How does an eye doctor diagnose myopia?

  • A: An optometrist will diagnose myopia with:
    • A refraction assessment test
      Eye health exam
  • During the refraction assessment test, the eye doctor will place a mask-like device with wheel-like lenses of different magnifications in front of the patient’s eyes to see which combination of lenses helps the patient see most clearly. For eye health exam, the eye doctor may administer eye drops that dilate the pupils to allow a clear view of the back of the eye.

Q: What are the long-term risks of myopia?

  • A: The more nearsighted a child is, the greater their risk of developing serious conditions like retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration in adulthood. All of these conditions can lead to vision loss, including blindness. The goal of myopia management is to slow and hopefully stop the progression of myopia early, to protect a child’s eye health as they grow.

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    a3ef93d0 34de 453f b5f4 5ffd895a5f85 (1)A Letter from Dr. Ben Giddens

    Hello friends, I have retired!

    I had 37 years of good fun in Georgetown and loved the gift of meeting so many warm and friendly people! I am very sorry that I didn’t have the time to chat with everyone about my exact plans, and felt guilty over that at times. It was not an easy task. If anyone wants, or needs to contact me, please send an email to my office and I will reply.

    I am 66 years old and still feel like I am in good health. My wife died of cancer in 2021 but I have good friends and family and a fun life. I recently moved back to Toronto which is where I grew up as a teenager. I have an active outdoor life and have many ski trips and travel plans in front of me. Lots of interests and activities to explore with an overriding sense that I am a lucky guy. I am also a grandfather now.

    I have always tried to employ staff and optometrists who have a heart. I think that is where the office is at today and I hope it continues. Everyone knows their work, and the heart matters.