Adults who need corrective lenses of some sort are often not surprised. There is a widespread ideology that age will naturally diminish the crispness of our eyesight. But children? Their eyesight is something that shouldn’t be a struggle; it’s precious, and it is their right to have it be as clear as possible. Following statistics over the past several years, though, we see that children are facing bigger threats to their eyesight today than ever before. What’s going on here?
According to research, more than 10 million children in our country are already myopic. Myopia is the term given to nearsightedness. When a person is nearsighted, objects that are some distance away are blurred; only what is up close can be visualized with clarity. The reason that nearsightedness occurs is that the eye is growing out of proportion. It is longer than it should be, and thus vision gets distorted.
Myopia is a condition that begins in childhood. The primary risk factor for this condition has historically been one’s genetic code passed down from Mom and Dad. Historically. When we look at the sharp increase in the number of children affected by myopia, though, we have to wonder what has changed. You may already know . . .
What scientists believe now is that our widespread (and sometimes chronic) use of electronic devices is putting children at risk for nearsightedness as well as other problematic eye conditions such as dry eye syndrome. It seems that our ancestors who warned their children that too much TV would ruin their eyes were right after all! For the eyes to develop properly during childhood, it is necessary that they focus on objects at various distances. When children play outdoors, this happens. The more time children are indoors reading, watching television, or using an electronic device, the less of a balanced workout their eyes get.
Does this matter?
Knowing that myopia is becoming more prevalent among children is an important discovery. This condition has been linked to an increased risk for glaucoma and retinal conditions later in life. Because diseases such as these can permanently diminish eyesight, we prefer to do everything possible to prevent them.
The summer months are an excellent time to encourage outdoor play, and also to schedule a visit with the eye doctor. Call our office near Honolulu at 808-625-5577.