Myopia: What Parents Should Know

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Too much screen time and studying have an adverse effect on our eyesight and may result in myopia (shortsightedness) over time. In Asia, myopia has become somewhat of an epidemic and 80 to 90% of students are afflicted with short-sightedness by the time they leave school.

While we get our children to eat healthy foods, exercise and brush their teeth, we don’t always know how to help them take care of their eyes. A healthy lifestyle, regulated screen time and regular checkups with the optometrist can catch problems early on so you can take steps to mitigate damage.

There are several symptoms to watch for which can tell you that your child may need glasses.

Signs That Your Child Needs Glasses

While most children become accustomed to eyestrain and may not notice blurriness, they do experience physical symptoms which can help to highlight problems. When eyes are strained, it can cause headaches, tearing, red eyes and excessive eye rubbing.

If you notice your child squinting, closing one eye or moving objects closer to them or further away, it may be time for a trip to the optometrist. Wanting to sit really close to the television or computer screen and sensitivity to light are also important indicators that your child may have a visual impairment.

Struggling with hand-eye coordination and losing interest in books or other work that requires good eyesight may be important signs that they need glasses.

If you want to test your child’s eyesight at home, use the University of Buffalo’s IVAC tool which allows you to use the computer to measure eyesight. Of course this isn’t a definitive test and you should still see a professional, but it may be a good way to check progress between visits to the optometrist.

How Often Should My Kids Go to the Optometrist?

Babies get their eyesight tested when they are born and should have another test at around 6 months. After that, routine tests every two years with a registered optometrist should ensure that any issues are caught in time. If you child already has glasses, annual check-ups are required.

Myopia results from too much screen time and not enough vitamin D so institute limitations on how many hours your children spend in front of a screen and try to get them outside for at least two hours a day.

When children are studying or working on the computer, encourage regular breaks and looking out of the window; adjusting to distance will help keep eyes in shape.

Limiting screen time, getting sunshine and a healthy diet with all the vitamins and minerals are great ways to maintain healthy eyesight for your children.

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