You cannot stop myopia progression, but there are steps that you can take to slow it down. Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a common issue that often starts in childhood and typically progresses into early adulthood before it stops on its own.
Myopia management starts as soon as indications of being nearsighted appear, either in yearly screenings or if you notice your child is struggling to read at a distance. The earlier myopia is diagnosed, the better it is for your child. If there is a history of myopia in the family, your eye doctor may actively monitor your child’s eye development.
When children develop myopia at an early age, they tend to worsen faster than when showing signs after about ten years old. It is best for them to start wearing eyeglasses then; as they get older, they may switch to contact lenses.
Some eye doctors also recommend treatment when children are recognized as pre-myopic. To be pre-myopic means your child may not be able to see as far as they should at a given age, but vision does not entirely fall into the myopic range.
Management of myopia does not ever end but, at some point, your vision does stop changing. By the time you have reached at least 21 years old, your vision typically stabilizes. When you are younger, you need to keep close-up screen time to a maximum of about three hours per day to stabilize your vision earlier. By doing so, your vision is likely to stop changing as early as 16 years old.
As your child gets older, you may consider contact lenses to control the blurry vision caused by myopia. It depends, too, on his or her lifestyle because someone heavily involved in sports may have different needs compared to someone who is not.
Once myopia stabilizes, you still need to visit your eye doctor on a regular basis. Yearly exams are critical in making sure that nothing else pops up over time, like retinal detachment, which is a common occurrence in myopic patients. The annual checkups are the part of myopia management that never ends.
Once your child’s vision stabilizes for at least a year, your eye doctor may suggest LASIK surgery to fix the issues at hand. Alternatively, your child may also want to consider orthokeratology, or ortho-k, as an option to live day-to-day without wearing corrective lenses. Ortho-k is less invasive but it is not permanent, unlike LASIK, which is permanent.
Even if you choose to go with one of these alternatives, you still need to make sure your child continues to see an eye doctor after the fact. As children grow into adulthood, encourage them to visit an eye doctor once they leave home.
To learn more about myopia management for children or to schedule an appointment with North Shore Eye Health and Wellness in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, call 262-421-4412.