It’s a common pattern. A child who used to do well in school suddenly starts to lose ground and complains of headaches and eye strain. This is often due to myopia, also called nearsightedness, which is a condition that allows someone to see things well up close but makes things far away appear blurry.
The condition often starts developing between the ages of 3-12 and usually levels out by age 20. Nearsightedness commonly runs in families, so if you have a family member who has it, your children may as well.
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, can check for signs of myopia and recommend the best course of treatment.
Myopia is the result of the eye being slightly misshapen. If the cornea curves too tightly, light entering the eye can’t be properly analyzed, and the eye can’t focus and transmit the correct images to the brain.
Most people with myopia can see fairly well up close, but anything at a distance usually becomes blurrier the farther away it is. A tree might be visible, but not the individual leaves. Or words on a sign may be visible but illegible. Trouble seeing a whiteboard or chalkboard from a distance is often the first sign a child is suffering from myopia.
One of the main factors in developing myopia is genetics. However, this isn’t the only factor. Many optometrists are concerned about the steep increase in screen time among children. Furthermore, some eye specialists say spending too much time seeing things up close and too little time looking at things in the distance may contribute to the development of myopia.
You can’t count on your child being aware enough of their failing vision to clue you in that there’s a problem. Instead, they’re more likely to simply adapt to their failing eyesight by sitting closer to screens, squinting, or otherwise compensating.
Paying close attention to certain signs can help you identify if your child is having trouble. Common myopia signs — besides flagging performance at school — include physical complaints. If your child rubs their eyes constantly or starts having headaches, it could be time for a vision check.
Nearsightedness is relatively easy to treat and control. The key is early identification and treatment to avoid more serious vision problems in the future. Among the treatments Dr. Rodriguez may recommend are the following:
- Wearing eyeglasses
- Wearing contacts
- Wearing orthokeratology lenses, which are special contacts worn at night to help reshape the cornea
- Using low-dose atropine eye drops to help slow the progression of myopia
To learn more about myopia and solutions for nearsightedness, book an appointment online or over the phone with Harlem VistaSite Eye Care today.