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Myopia Management

Why Does Outdoor Time Delay Or Prevent Myopia?

outdoor children 640Now that myopia (nearsightedness) is reaching epidemic proportions across the globe, it’s all the more important for parents to understand how myopia can impact their child’s future, and learn which actions they should take to protect their child’s eye health in the long run.

You see, myopia isn’t simply an inconvenience. Childhood myopia raises the risk of developing vision-robbing diseases like macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy later in life.

Myopia develops as the eye elongates more than it should, causing light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. This manifests as blurred distance vision and clear near vision.

While myopia is caused by a combination of circumstances, including genetic and environmental, a key factor comes down to the amount of time a child spends outdoors in the sunlight.

How Does Outdoor Play Affect Myopia?

Although researchers haven’t yet pinpointed exactly why “sun time” prevents or delays myopia, almost all agree that it plays a large role.

One possible reason is correlated to the brightness of the sun. Some experts have found that the intensity of the sun’s rays triggers a dopamine release in the retina which is thought to slow down the elongation of the eye.

Another theory holds that outdoor time encourages a child to shift their gaze from near objects to faraway ones. Excessive near work, like staring at a digital screen, is believed to be a driving force behind the stark increase in myopic individuals today.

Sending a child outdoors to play gives their eyes a break from focusing on their tablets, smartphones, homework, gaming and other near work.

Additionally, spending more time in the sunshine means more Vitamin-D production. Small-scale studies have found nearsighted people have lower levels of Vitamin D than those with normal eyesight. However, more research is needed to confirm this theory.

Here’s the Bottom Line

Childhood myopia increases the risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life. Parents should be proactive about their child’s eye health and do what they can to prevent myopia from developing or progressing at a rapid rate.

Even if your child doesn’t have myopia, encouraging them to play outdoors for several hours a day has been found to prevent the onset of myopia in certain instances.

So go ahead and give your child a water bottle, sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses—and send them out to play! Children aged 6 and up should spend about 2 hours daily outside in the sunshine.

But sun time alone isn’t enough to ensure the best possible outcome for their eye health. A myopia management program can help give your child the best odds of healthy vision for a lifetime.

To learn more about the myopia treatments we offer and schedule your child’s myopia consultation, call The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates today!


Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: #1: What is myopia management?

  • A: Myopia management is the science-based method used to slow or halt the progression of myopia. There are several options available, and your optometrist will sit down with you and your child to discuss which treatment option is most suitable for your child’s needs.

Q: #2: Who can benefit from myopia management?

  • A: Myopia management treatments have been approved for children as young as 8 and can be used until early adulthood. Myopia management is great for children with low myopia but can also be effective for slowing myopia progression in kids and teens with moderate to high myopia. Contact us to find out whether your child is a candidate for myopia management.

The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton and Ryan, all throughout Virginia.

 

Request a Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 703-724-0330

Why Bother With Myopia Control?

Boy Trouble LearningMyopia control is a hot topic these days — and for good reason. More and more parents are providing their nearsighted children with myopia control treatments in hopes of slowing down the rapid progression of this very common refractive error.

Is myopia control worth all the effort? Why not just get new glasses every time your child needs a higher prescription? Is childhood myopia really that big of a deal?

Below, we’ll answer these important questions so you can make informed decisions and feel confident about your choices. If your child has myopia, contact The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates to learn more about how we can help.

Myopia Is Not Harmless

Myopia is far more than just blurry distance vision. What many don’t realize is that it can seriously impact a child’s long-term eye health.

A child with myopia is significantly more likely to develop sight-threatening diseases, such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and macular degeneration, later in life.

Because the cause of myopia is an elongated eye, the stretching of the eye takes a toll on the retina (the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye). Over time, the stressed retina is more prone to damage and tearing.

Your Child’s Lens Prescription Matters

Suppose your child’s lens prescription is -3.00D (mild to moderate myopia). Although you may think that it’s too late for myopia control at this point, research suggests otherwise.

The level of myopia a child has is directly correlated to their risk of eye disease — the higher the myopia, the greater the risk.

A child with myopia that’s between -0.75D and -3.00 is more than 3 times more likely to develop retinal detachment in the future. That number triples for individuals with high myopia (-5.00 and above).

The risk of myopic maculopathy is also influenced by the level of a child’s nearsightedness. Children under -5.00 have just a 0.42% of developing this serious eye condition, but anything above -5.00? That risk level leaps to 25.3%.

Slowing down or stopping your child’s eyesight from worsening will greatly increase their chances of having a healthy vision in adulthood. Halting myopia as early as possible renders the best outcome.

Myopia Is On The Rise

This is the time to act. With myopia cases escalating exponentially, it’s expected that about half of the world’s population will be nearsighted by 2050, and about 10% of those individuals will have high myopia.

Offering your child myopia control now can potentially prevent them from being part of that 10% in 2050.

If your child has myopia or is at risk of developing it, we can help! To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, contact The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates today.

Q&A

 

Q: #1: How do I know if my child is at risk of developing myopia?

  • A: If one or both parents have myopia, a child is predisposed to becoming nearsighted. Other factors that influence myopia include excess screen time, not enough time spent in the sunlight, and being of a certain ethnicity (people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent have the highest risk).

Q: #2: What treatments are used for myopia control?

  • A: The 3 main treatments are atropine eye drops, orthokeratology (Ortho-k) contact lenses, and multifocal contact lenses. Your optometrist will help you decide which method best suits your child’s eyes and lifestyle.

 

The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, all throughout Virginia.


Request a Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 703-724-0330

4 Common Myopia Myths Debunked

4 Common Myopia Myths Debunked 640Myopia (nearsightedness) occurs when the eye elongates and rays of light entering the eye are focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it.

It’s by far the most common refractive error among children and young adults.

To help understand and learn more about what myopia means for your child’s vision, we’ve debunked 4 common myopia myths.

Myth: Myopia only develops in childhood

Fact: While it’s true that in most cases nearsightedness develops in childhood, it can also develop during one’s young adult years.

Myth: Wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses cause myopia to worsen

Fact: Prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses in no way exacerbate myopia. Optical corrections help you see comfortably and clearly. Another common misconception is that it’s better to use a weaker lens power than the one prescribed by your eye doctor. This is simply not true. By wearing a weaker lens you are contradicting the purpose of using corrective eyewear, which is to comfortably correct your vision.

Myth: Taking vitamins can cure myopia

Fact: Vitamins have been proven to slow the progression of or prevent some eye conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts. However, no vitamin has been shown to prevent or cure myopia. All vitamins and supplements should only be taken under the advice of your healthcare professional.

Myth: There is no way to slow the progression of myopia.

Fact: There are a few ways to slow down the progression of myopia:

Get more sunlight. Studies have shown that children who spend more time playing outdoors in the sunlight have slower myopia progression than children who are homebodies.

Take a break. Doing close work, such as spending an excessive amount of time looking at a digital screen, reading, and doing homework has been linked to myopia. Encouraging your child to take frequent breaks to focus on objects farther away can help. One well-known eye exercise is the 20-20-20 rule, where you take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

Other options to slow myopia progression include:

  • Orthokeratology/Ortho-k. These are specialized custom-fit contact lenses shown to decrease the rate of myopia progression through the gentle reshaping of the cornea when worn overnight.
  • Multifocal lenses offer clear vision at various focal distances. Studies show that wearing multifocal soft contact lenses or multifocal eyeglasses during the day can limit the progression of myopia compared to conventional single vision glasses or contact lenses.
  • Atropine drops. 1.0% atropine eye drops applied daily in one eye over a period of 2 years has shown to significantly reduce the progression of myopia

Prevent or slow the progression of your child’s myopia with myopia management. Contact The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates to book your child’s consultation today!

The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, all throughout Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Richard Kao

Q: Can myopia be cured?

  • A: Currently, there is no cure for myopia. However, various myopia management methods can slow its progression.

Q: How much time should my child spend outdoors to reduce the risk of myopia?

  • A: Make sure your child spends at least 90 minutes a day outdoors.


The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan, all throughout Virginia.

 

Request a Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 703-724-0330

How Often Does Your Myopic Child Need An Updated Prescription?

Mom Daughter Child Eye HealthEvery year you buy your children clothing without thinking about why you are doing it. You just know they have outgrown their clothes and need a new coat and certainly new shoes. This also applies to prescription glasses. When your child grows, so do their eyes.

If their eyes grow too long, they develop myopia — nearsightedness. Children whose myopia develops quickly, and/or is moderate to severe, are at a heightened risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases in adulthood.

Changes in Your Eyes

Babies are born with eyes about 16.5 millimeters in length. When their eyes are about 24 millimeters long — at the age of 20 and 21 — they stop getting longer.

As our eyes grow larger, the way they refract light onto the retina can change, necessitating a new prescription.

During their first few years, children are mainly concerned with interacting with their surroundings, requiring them to use their intermediate and far vision. However, when the school years start, they begin to focus more intently on close-up activities like reading from books and using computers. As a result, their eyes may become more nearsighted.

School-age children can be impacted by progressive myopia, where the myopia continues to worsen throughout the school years. Their optical prescriptions can change, often dramatically, every 6-12 months

This progression in myopia continues as long as the eyes continue to grow, so as children grow, their prescription naturally changes as well.

Since most people’s eyes will stop growing in early adulthood, you will tend to see fewer changes in their prescription after the student completes high school or during their college years.

Myopia Management

If your child has myopia they will need prescription glasses. In some children, myopia progression is gradual. In others, their myopia progresses quickly, resulting in ever-higher levels of nearsightedness. Their eyeglass prescriptions need to be updated quickly.

To try and slow the progression of your child’s myopia, our optometric team may suggest a number of treatments, such as multifocal lenses and atropine drops, among others.

Atropine Drops

Atropine eye drops are most commonly used to dilate your pupils during certain eye exams. However, recent research has shown that a low-dose (0.01%) of atropine eye drops can effectively impede the progression of myopia in children. When the eye drops are applied, at bedtime, over an extended period of time, myopia progression can be reduced.

Multifocal Lenses

Multifocal soft contact lenses offer clear vision at various focal distances. Scientific evidence has shown that wearing multifocal glasses or contact lenses limits the progression of myopia compared to the standard single vision contact lenses or glasses most children wear.

At The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates, we provide our patients with effective, specialized treatment to control the progression of myopia. By stopping or slowing the progression of myopia, we reduce long-term risks to best ensure that your child enjoys the world with healthy eyes throughout their life.

The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients in Ashburn,Broadlands, Brambleton and Ryan, throughout Virginia.

Request a Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 703-724-0330

Does The Use of Digital Devices Cause Myopia In Children?

kid with tablet 640Myopia (nearsightedness) occurs when the eyeball grows too long, or the cornea and/or eye lens are too curved relative to the length of the eyeball. This causes faraway objects to appear blurry. More than 30% of North Americans have this refractive error starting from childhood.

Being nearsighted isn’t just an inconvenience. Children with moderate to severe myopia are at significant risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life, such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal detachment.

But is there a link between spending too much time on digital devices and myopia? While digital devices keep our children busy and entertained, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to understand the implications associated with all this screen time.

What Does the Research Show?

There is growing evidence that up-close tasks raise the risk of myopia in children. In an analysis of 27 studies on 25,000 children published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found that the more time children spent on near-work activities like reading, homework, writing, computer use, playing video games, and watching TV, the higher their risk of developing myopia.

The analysis found that the odds of myopia increased by 2% for every hour per week a child did near-work activities.

Other studies have found that children who spend a significant amount of time playing outdoors experience less myopia progression than children who are homebodies. Researchers theorize that looking at distant objects, such as a ball flying through the air at the far end of a sports field, and sunshine play a role in myopia prevention.

Not surprisingly, most eye doctors recommend limiting the amount of time a child stares at a digital screen in order to safeguard their eye health and overall wellbeing. To learn more about myopia or to slow its progression, contact The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates today.

What Are the Signs of Myopia?

  • Blurred vision: Using a digital screen for long periods of time can result in blurry vision, especially when focusing on distant objects.
  • Headaches: Untreated myopia can cause serious eye strain, which in turn results in headaches.
  • Head tilting or squinting: If you notice your child tilting their head while watching TV or squinting their eyes, it’s a sign that they are having difficulty focusing. This could be a sign of myopia.
  • Looking at objects a bit too closely: Oftentimes, children cannot verbally explain how they feel but they can express it in a non-verbal way. If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or that they have trouble seeing the blackboard at school, it can signal myopia.

How Can I Prevent or Slow My Child’s Myopia?

Catching myopia early can help slow its progression and prevent serious eye diseases later in life. As a parent, here is what you can do to help prevent your child from developing this eye condition:

  • Try to limit the amount of time your child spends on close work such as reading, homework, and screen time.
  • When your child uses a computer, make sure they are properly positioned. Have your child take frequent screen breaks and look across the room for at least 20 seconds during each break.
  • Encourage outdoor time of at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Be sure your child wears UV protected sunglasses.
  • Discuss myopia management with your eye doctor to slow and potentially stop the progression of your child’s myopia.

How We Can Help Treat Myopia

If your child exhibits any myopia symptoms, schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor as soon as possible. Undetected myopia can cause many complications, whether academic, social, or emotional. Early diagnosis of myopia and other eye problems can improve your child’s performance in school, on the sports field, and can prevent serious sight-robbing eye diseases later in life.

Furthermore, if your child is diagnosed with myopia, we can help slow its progression with myopia management.

Our doctors work closely with each family and customize treatment programs for every child based on their unique needs. If you are concerned about your child’s myopia, schedule an assessment for myopia management to see if they can benefit from this life-changing treatment.

To learn more about myopia management or to schedule an eye exam, contact The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates in Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, and Ryan today!

Resources:

Request a Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 703-724-0330

Protect Your Children’s Vision By Getting Them To Play Outside This Winter!

child playing snow 640As temperatures drop, some parents may be wondering how to get their kids outside for some healthy outdoor play.

Below, we share tips on fun outdoor activities you can do and explain why playing outside can help your child’s vision.

How Outdoor Play Impacts Myopia

Studies have shown that children who spend at least 11 hours per week outside during daylight hours have a slower rate of myopia progression than children who don’t. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure why, it appears that sunlight and the child’s use of distance vision outdoors may play a role.

So why would parents want to slow down their child’s myopia? The answer may surprise you.

Having myopia in childhood places the child at heightened risk for developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life. These include cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and glaucoma.

3 Outdoor Activities to Do With Your Kids This Winter

Play With Snow

Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, playing with snow is something that everyone can enjoy. Bundle up your child so they stay safe and warm, and send them out to build a snowman, have a snowball fight, build an igloo, or make a snow angel. Older children and teens may enjoy building a snow maze.

If your kids like a bit of competition, you can conduct a snow castle building contest. This activity can be fun for the entire family!

If you don’t have enough snow to build a snowman or castle, you can play tic-tac-snow on the snow-covered ground.

Go Sledding

Sledding and tobogganing are classic winter activities that your child will love. All you need is a sled and a snowy hill — easy, right?

But before you soar down those snowy slopes, here are some guidelines that will ensure a safer sledding experience:

  • Use a sled that can be steered and has a brake
  • Protect your head with a helmet
  • Dress warmly, but leave your scarf at home, as it can get caught under the sled
  • Children under the age of 6 should always sled accompanied by an adult

Create Outdoor Art

This activity is perfect for kids who like to get a little messy. To make a colorful masterpiece on a canvas of snow, give your child a few squirt bottles filled with water and a few drops of food coloring gel. They’ll have heaps of fun squirting the colored liquid on snow or ice.

They can also paint on snow using watercolors and a paintbrush.

If it doesn’t snow where you live, you can always give your child some sidewalk chalk and let them get creative on the pavement. The important thing is to have your child play outdoors.

At The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates, our goal is to help slow down your child’s myopia progression and keep their eyes healthy for a lifetime.

To learn more about our myopia management program or to schedule your child’s eye exam, call us today!

The Myopia Management Center at Loudoun Eye Associates serves patients from Ashburn, Broadlands, Brambleton, Ryan, and throughout Virginia.

Request a Myopia Management Appointment
Want To Discuss Myopia? Call 703-724-0330