If you’ve recently noticed that your vision is getting worse, you should schedule an appointment with your optometrist. We can assess your vision and adjust your prescription if necessary.

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We can also give you advice on properly managing your myopia. Depending on your health and needs, we may recommend certain lifestyle changes, like regularly taking breaks from work that requires intense focus.

What is myopia?

Short-sightedness (Myopia) is a refractive error, not an eye disease. It usually occurs because the eyeball grows too long from front to back during childhood.

If the eye is too long, light doesn’t come to a clear focus on the retina. This is why short-sighted people can see clearly up close, but distant objects look blurry.

There has been recent research that has found that environmental factors can influence the development of myopia. The most important of these factors is spending time outside in sunlight.

Sunlight stimulates the natural production of dopamine. Dopamine slows down growth in the axial length of the eyes, and too much axial growth can cause myopia. This means that more sun exposure can be a great tool to reduce a child’s chances of developing myopia.

Another important factor is prolonged close work – this is the type of tasks that require continual focusing up close, like reading or using computer screens, tablets and smartphones.

There is growing evidence that prolonged close work increases the risk for myopia. Some studies have found that prolonged close work may increase myopia progression.

Childhood and myopia

Myopia usually begins during childhood. If it is progressive myopia, it can continue to get worse until early adulthood. And often, children who are becoming short-sighted aren’t aware their vision is declining.
To check your child’s vision, it’s a very good idea to schedule an eye exam at the beginning of each school year with an optometrist.

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Aging and Myopia

Myopia is typically diagnosed between the ages of 8 and 12. Changes in prescription often slow down about the age of 20, when our eyes begin to stop growing.

Many people will not experience increasing myopia as they go into their 30s, but having myopia as a child will continue through that person’s life.

Is short-sightedness genetic?

Many aspects of vision are genetic, including some of the risk for refractive error. Genetics definitely plays a role in whether a child will develop myopia. A child with two short-sighted parents can have a six times greater risk of myopia than a child with no short-sighted parent.

But heredity is not the only factor in developing myopia. The number of people with myopia is rising rapidly. Currently, more than one third of the world’s population has myopia. The number is even higher in some East Asian countries, where at least 80% of young adults are nearsighted.

Researchers predict that more than half of people worldwide will have myopia by the year 2050. Genetics and heredity alone can’t account for such a dramatic increase in short-sightedness.

However, environmental factors might be a large part of the answer. Specifically, people have been spending less time outdoors and more time staring at digital screens.

Myopia can also be a sign of something more serious, including diabetes. So it’s important to have regular optometrist checks to help rule out such causes.

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