These days, more and more children are becoming nearsighted or myopic. This means they can see clearly up close but have blurry vision when they look far. However, most children are not aware they have it.
“Nearsightedness or myopia is very common in children. But because they don’t have anyone or anything to compare their vision with, they think having blurry vision is normal. They would just adjust to it by sitting close to the TV or the blackboard or squinting their eyes. There are also kids who would rub their eyes frequently, thinking there is dirt in their eyes,” says Asian Eye Institute pediatric optometrist and orthoptist Dr. Gualberto Dato.
Nearsightedness happens when the eyeball grows longer than usual.
Asian Eye chief optometrist and low vision and visual rehabilitation specialist Dr. Jesse Caguioa explains: “Their eyeballs grow longer as they grow older, which causes their nearsightedness to keep increasing every year. It is only when they reach age 18 that their eyeballs stop growing and their eye grade stabilizes.”
He adds: “The thing is, continuous progression of and having high nearsightedness in children can lead to poor school or athletic performance. It also puts them at risk of developing potentially blinding conditions. Since the eyeballs are stretched and get thinned, they may eventually develop retinal detachment or glaucoma.”
Asian Eye offers innovative treatment through myopia control spectacle lenses and Ortho-K contact lenses that are designed to prevent or slow the increase in nearsightedness in children.
Myopia control lenses work by making the side vision mildly blurry; this tells the brain that the eye is already longer than it should be and prevents the eyeball from growing longer.
Ortho-K, on the other hand, acts like braces or retainers for the eyes.
Caguioa shares: “Children over seven years old and have mild to moderate nearsightedness can wear Ortho-K contact lenses. It makes use of hard contact lenses that reshape the cornea of the eye to temporarily correct nearsightedness. They are worn at least six hours while sleeping. When removed, clear vision usually lasts at least 24 hours.”
These special contact lenses are a great option for children who play sports and those who frequently break or misplace their glasses. They can also be recommended to children who are farsighted or have astigmatism.
Dato emphasizes the need for children to undergo annual eye checkups or at least before school starts.
“We want to make sure that they have clear, healthy vision to aid them in their growth and development. Our goal is to monitor their eye health, detect vision problems early and prevent more serious eye conditions like lazy eye, retinal problem and glaucoma,” he says.