This question is very general, and we could talk about many vision conditions that could affect your child’s vision but here we will focus on nearsightedness (or “Myopia”).
Being nearsighted means that generally your vision is good up close and blurred in the distance. There are many things that can determine if your child will need glasses from being nearsighted. Genetics will account for some risk, but the environment can account for up to 80% of the determination of if your child will become nearsighted. What in our environment makes us more nearsighted? Mostly being indoors and doing near work. This includes reading, writing, computer, phone, and tablets- really anything you spend your time doing inside at a close focal point.
Many patients that are themselves nearsighted may honestly wonder why many doctors have now started to “treat” myopia in young patients by trying to slow progression instead of just giving them an updated prescription for their glasses every year like they probably got when they were younger. Why the worry now to do something different? Simply stated: numbers! The percent of young people (under 18) that will become nearsighted in the U.S. is estimated to go up to 50% in the next 30 or so years, by 2050! Also, the amount of myopia is also climbing. Meaning that the amount of myopia is more severe and the prescription higher/worse. In order to explain why this is a more serious problem then you may realize let’s take a look at what higher amounts of Myopia do to the eye physically.
Below is a picture of how your eye sees light. This shows light coming into the eye, being focused by the cornea and lens, and projected onto the retina (inside lining of the eye) to make a clear image.
If you are nearsighted the light image will fall short, in front of the retina and so the image becomes blurred. This happens because there is elongation in the Retina. The eye is physically too long. As more and more stretching or elongation occurs in the Retina, we have to give a patient a stronger and stronger lenses to compensate and put the image in the right focal point.
The risk for ALL myopic patients is that more stretching in the Retina puts you at an exponential higher risk for sight-threatening ocular diseases later in your life. For example, a low amount of myopia , -0.50 to -1.00, will put a patient at 2x the risk vs. the general population for Macular Degeneration as they age. However, once a patient progresses to about a -5.00 in their prescription their risk is now 40x greater and at a -9.00 they are about 250x greater risk! Long-standing research shows myopia increases the risk of retinal detachment, macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and more.
Children that are still growing and have high amounts of growth hormone still being released are particularly at risk for changes, progression, and worsening of vision. Laser vision correction will NOT fix this problem. Lasers can be used to reshape the cornea and redirect light onto the focal point in the retina, which results in clear vision but does nothing to reverse the stretching that has already occurred in the back of the eye. Those LASIK patients will still have the same ocular disease risk as they age.
As you can imagen more children with higher amounts of nearsightedness in the future is a worrying prospect.
The doctors at Eye Vision have multiple treatments to help slow the progression of nearsightedness in young patients at any age. Book an appointment with one of our doctors and find out which options might be best for you and your child.