Can You Reduce Your Child’s Risk of Myopia?
Myopia, aka near-sightedness, is a condition where people have trouble seeing objects at a distance. While it once only affected 25% of the population, it’s been on the rise since 1970 and now impacts the vision of roughly 42% of people. Since myopia can progress throughout childhood and cause cataracts, glaucoma and retina detachment later in life, it’s smart to do whatever you can to reduce your childrehn’s risk of myopia before they develop it.
Know your genes
While making alterations to a child’s lifestyle could help avoid myopia, there’s nothing to be done about the genetic component of the eye condition. Children with near-sighted parents are more likely to develop myopia than other children. Your child’s ethnicity may also play a role, as roughly 80% of the population of Asia suffers from myopia. This could mean that children of Asian descent are more likely to develop this condition.
The benefits of eating right are two-fold. Not only does eating a nutritious balanced diet promote good eye health, but it can also help your child avoid obesity and diabetes, which comes with its own set of eye problems. While leading a busy lifestyle may not always be conducive to a home-cooked meal every night of the week, getting in the following foods whenever possible may help your child to avoid myopia or slow its progression if they already have it:
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy greens
- Oily fish.
With new technological advances happening all the time, today’s children are more likely to spend their free time on an electronic device than they are playing outside with their friends. Since outdoor play has been shown to decrease a child’s risk of myopia, encourage your children to play outside for an hour or two on nice days. Outdoor play will not only allow them to get in a little extra sunshine, but the nature of the play can help to better develop their hand-eye coordination and their distance vision.
If your children must stay inside, limit their screen time to two hours per day, with short breaks every 20 minutes to rest their eyes.
Watch for warning signs
Unfortunately, even children who eat right, play right and don’t have genetics working against them can still develop myopia. This makes it critical to be aware of the myopia warnings signs and keep watch for them in your child. Unlike far-sighted children, those with myopia usually don’t complain about their vision, so the following behaviors could be all that lets you know it’s time to schedule some time for your child with the eye doctor:
- Blinks a lot
- Complains of frequent eye pain or headaches
- Holds books close to their nose
- Rubs eyes excessively
- Sits close to television
- Tilts head while watching TV or reading from the computer.
Remember, catching myopia early in children can allow for immediate correction of their vision and treatment that could help to slow the decline of their vision. If you have any reason to suspect your children may be near-sighted, it’s always better to bring them in and be wrong than to wait till when they do have myopia.