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Home » Vision & eye health » Vision correction can make a huge difference to a child’s quality of life

Andrew Sanders

Professional Services Director, HOYA Lens UK

Many parents don’t know what myopia (shortsightedness) is or how it can affect their children. If it remains untreated, it may lead to serious vision problems.

A recent study of 2,000 parents — commissioned by spectacle lens manufacturer HOYA Lens UK — found that a quarter of children don’t have regular eye examinations, and one in 10 have never been to an optician.

Rising prevalence of myopia

The survey also found that 55% of parents have a school-aged child with eyesight problems — and myopia (or shortsightedness) was the most common issue. Myopia prevalence is doubling, with figures predicting that nearly 50% of the global population will be shortsighted by 2050, yet 81% of parents in the study didn’t know what myopia was. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to serious vision problems.

“Myopia usually occurs due to an elongation of the eyeball and generally starts between the ages of six and 13,” says Andrew Sanders, Professional Services Director at HOYA. “One key driver is believed to be an increase in indoor lifestyles. There is evidence that two hours of outdoor activity per day can reduce the onset of myopia by nearly 30%.”

Children should be encouraged to read at a distance of 30cm or more, and take breaks every 30 minutes.

Book a free eye appointment

Too much close reading can be a problem, with children glued to screens and smartphones. “The 30:30:OUT rule advocates that children should be encouraged to read at a distance of 30cm or more, and take breaks every 30 minutes,” says Sanders, who admits that genes are thought to be another driver. Evidence suggests that a child with myopic parents (either one or both) is more likely to develop myopia themselves.

If you suspect your child is struggling with myopia, you should book an appointment with an optometrist immediately (eye tests for children are funded by the NHS). If spectacles are prescribed, the optometrist will advise you on how often your child should wear them. Not doing so can potentially increase myopia progression.

Alternatives for shortsightedness

Latest treatments include new spectacle lenses that slow down the progression of myopia by 60% on average over two years. If your child doesn’t want to wear glasses, then contact lenses may be an option.

“It’s important that children are at the heart of all decisions regarding their myopia management,” says Sanders. “Vision correction shouldn’t be underestimated because it can make a huge difference to their quality of life.”

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Yazdani et al. 2021 Jan-Mar;14(1):11-19. doi: 10.1016/j.optom.2020.04.003. Epub 2020 Jun 2. PMID: 32507615; PMCID: PMC7752985.

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