Myopia (also known as nearsightedness) is a growing problem among children. The condition means you can see clearly up close, but distant objects appear blurry. The rate of myopia in children has grown with the increased use of electronic devices such as handheld video games, laptop computers, electronic pads, and tablets, among other things. These devices can cause eyestrain, and eyestrain is one of the causes of myopia.
As children begin to use these devices at younger and younger ages, it’s important that parents stay informed about the signs and treatments for myopia. Keep reading to find out what symptoms to look for in your child and what you can do to prevent this disorder.
Warning Signs of Myopia in Children
As a parent, you want the absolute best for your child. This also means that you want the best for their vision. After all, having good vision is something that will affect them for the rest of their life. However, you can’t always prevent myopia from developing. If you are concerned about your child’s vision, here are some things you should watch out for:
- Squinting at a distant object
- Using a finger to track across a line of text
- Rubbing their eyes often
- Suffering from headaches
- Complaining that their eyes are tired
- Complaining that their eyes ache
- Tilting their head to look at objects
- Complaining of sensitivity to light
- Sitting too close to the TV
- Closing one eye as they read
If you suspect your child has eye issues, schedule an eye exam for them. Children should have eye exams at six months of age, three years of age, and before they enter school.
Dealing with Myopia
If your child has myopia, there are some ways you can slow its progression. One of the causes of myopia is visual fatigue, often caused by screen time, and luckily it is one of the easiest causes to address.
The best way to alleviate visual fatigue is to encourage your children to take breaks from the screen. They should stop looking at the digital screen after 10 minutes of usage, and look at something 10 feet away for 10 seconds. This helps rest the eyes for a bit, and they can go back to what they were doing right after. Looking away, even for 10 seconds, gives the eyes a chance to change focus from something up close to something far away. It can do wonders in relieving eye strain.
Another way to help prevent visual fatigue is to look into some blue light glasses. While they won’t prevent nearsightedness or even digital eye strain, blue light glasses will help promote better sleep, especially if your kids like to wind down with some screen time in the evening. Early studies have shown that reducing blue light intake can improve sleep quality, work engagement, and task performance. Fatigued eyes will never work as well as well-rested eyes, so ordering some blue light glasses or a film for your child’s devices is a good idea. While hypotheses that blue light blockers might help prevent myopia have been debunked, the benefits of adding this layer of protection still outweigh the costs!
Diet, Eye Exercises, and Lifestyle Changes
You can considerably reduce the chance of developing myopia or the progression of the disease just by adjusting some of your child’s lifestyle choices at home. One of the easiest ways to do that is through diet. To have healthy eyes, you need to eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals. It is important that your child get enough of the necessary vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements in their diet to achieve healthy vision.
If you think that it may be difficult to get your child to eat enough of the proper foods, consider changing out some of the snack foods in your house. Foods rich in antioxidants are some of the best vision builders and protectors. To get more antioxidants into your child’s diet, add more fresh and dried fruits to their snack choices. Another good snack choice is raw vegetables like carrots and broccoli.
To get them to eat healthy, though, you may need to be creative. Consider melting a little cheese for them to dip broccoli in, or arrange fruit in a smiley face shape on top of their cereal in the morning. Even if they don’t appreciate your healthy additions now, you may just train their tastebuds to enjoy healthier snacks in the long run.
If you are still concerned that they are not consuming enough of the right foods, consider putting them on a multivitamin or vitamin supplement, like our Ocu-Plus Formula. Our special blend of 17 vitamins and minerals will fill in a lot of the gaps. But first, keep in mind you should always call your pediatrician before giving your child any vitamins or vitamin supplements.
Eye exercises are another great way to strengthen your child’s vision. Memory games, eye shift activities, and tracking games can all help improve their eyesight. Plus, these activities can be another fun thing to do together on any given afternoon.
The last way to address your child’s myopia progression is by helping them select better entertainment choices. Playing video games for hours on end certainly isn’t doing their vision any favors. Encourage your children to do more hands-on play or outdoor play. Physical activity is good for them, and it helps them unplug from their long list of electronic devices.
Instead of watching television as a family, play a board game or read a story. Start a family game of sardines or build a blanket fort together. Not only will these entertainment choices help reduce your children’s eyestrain, but the change will also help build better family bonds and memories!
So, if you are worried about your child’s eyesight, never fear. While myopia in children can’t always be prevented, knowing what to look for and what you can do to help can certainly give you peace of mind.