This month I thought I would share a topic in Optometry which sparks my interest and that is myopia, also known as short-sightedness. It is extremely prevalent across the world and in fact it is growing. Fascinatingly, the World Health Organisation have predicted that by 2050 (that’s only 32 years from now!) half of the worlds population will be myopic. Already in some far eastern countries over 90% off all the population are myopic.
The solid reasons for this are in fact not yet fully understood. You may jump to the increased use of devices and screens being the cause for this, however this is not conclusive or proven. Some studies now point to the reduction of time spent outdoors for some as a factor, for some there will be a stronger genetic influence if 1 (or even higher if both) parents are myopic.
The onset of myopia is most likely to happen in childhood so it is important that children have their eyes tested early. If you are wondering at what age, well there is no fixed age, but before school is a good idea and sooner if you are concerned. Children under 16 are entitled to a free NHS examination.
In the reception year of school, in Derby, children’s vision is screened. If there is anything the trained vision screeners need investigating further, they will refer you to see a registered Optometrist like myself or Fiona, for a further check. We will explain what happens from here.
When we see a child in practice we check some basics even if they cannot (or will not!) cooperate depending on their age. We look to make sure we can see their retinal reflexes in both eyes (which looks like red eye when you take a photograph) and that their eyes seem to be aligned so that they are able to develop equally. Of course we will attempt as many tests we can, within reason and try to make it engaging.
There are some really exciting developments on the horizon for myopia and its potential control to reduce the rate of this. We are currently able to fit the worlds first approved contact lens for myopia control, “MiSight”. And I have a feeling that this is only the tip of the iceberg. I imagine the next decade or 2 will bring us more knowledge and access to different and more effective ways to reduce and control myopia in children which will benefit them far into their adult lives.
Contact the practice for more information about children’s eye tests and myopia control or short sightedness in children. Book online at www.richardpetrie.com or call 01332 291010.