Myopic (nearsighted) children tend to progress and become more near-sighted as they get older. Myopia management should start at the first sign of progression (change in the child’s prescription) or even sooner if the child has many risk factors for pathologic myopia ( both parents are very near-sighted, increased use of digital devices, high axial length… etc)
I recommend starting myopia management sooner than later, and definitely before the child starts first grade if they’re already myopic at that point)
More children today are developing myopia at a younger age. Different factors contribute to this
problem, including increased digital device use and spending more time indoors. Fortunately,
eye specialists are coming up with ways to slow the progression of myopia.
Myopia usually develops in childhood. Most children with the vision condition have one or both
parents with myopia. Often developing an eyeball that grows too long, patients with
nearsightedness do not see distant objects clearly.
Myopia usually worsens over time before peaking in early adulthood. High myopia causes the child to be at risk for developing other ocular conditions such as retinal detachment and glaucoma due to the stretching of the retina and the optic nerve. Both conditions are serious sight-threatening. Fortunately, effective myopia treatment can stabilize the prescription and the size of the eyeball, decreasing the risk for said conditions drastically.
In a perfect world, children are expected to have hyperopia (farsightedness ) and to grow out of it as they get older to have no prescription by the time they’re in middle school.
Children diagnosed with myopia or nearsightedness before seven have the highest risk of myopia progression. At this age, the eyeball has more time to grow and elongate through adolescence and puberty. An increase of -1.00 in 12 months is a rapid progression that requires treatment.
The best time to start managing myopia is immediately. When your child is diagnosed with
myopia, your eye doctor can begin myopia management. The doctor will discuss myopia management options if your child is identified as having a high risk of developing high myopia. It will help reduce the risk of eye diseases. Children as young as three can begin myopia management, and the earlier they start, the better the prognosis.
There are ways to determine whether a child will develop myopia. Doctors can predict whether
the child will become nearsighted by measuring the current refractive error level. On average, a
three-year-old should be farsighted by +2.00. At four years, the child’s farsighted level should be about +1.50 and +1.00 at six years. Farsightedness helps prevent nearsightedness as the eye develops. If your child’s refractive level is not developing normally, your child is at risk of myopia. The doctor will recommend close monitoring.
Myopia management is not a one-size-fits-all. Doctors recommend the best solution based on the child’s age, eye condition, and other factors. Using low-dose atropine can help slow or prevent myopia progression. Other management options include using special eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Orthokeratology or ortho-k involves the use of special contact lenses overnight. The lenses help
reshape the cornea as the child sleeps. Wearing the lenses every night can help manage myopia.
Research shows that spending more time outdoors can prevent or delay the onset of childhood
myopia. Children considered high risk and who have not developed myopia can benefit from
increased outdoor time. Some eyeglasses can help prevent eyestrain but also increase myopia
development. Managing myopia is about slowing, not stopping, the condition.
For more on the age you can start myopia management, visit Carousel Eyecare at our
Houston, Texas office. Call (281) 666-9835 to schedule an appointment today.