If you suffered from nearsightedness as a child (and the resultant teasing at school and dependence on glasses for eyesight), you may wish to do all you can to prevent a recurrence of this issue in the next generation. Fortunately for you, nearsightedness doesn't pass directly from parent to child. However, there is a genetic element to your child's risk factor. Here are three steps to calculating whether your child is at high risk for developing nearsightedness, or myopia, in the near future.
1. Genetic factor
If neither parent is myopic, a child's chances of developing the condition are reduced. One parent with myopia increases the chances, and two parents increase them more. However, it's not that the child inherits nearsightedness; rather, the child inherits a likelihood, or a genetic predisposition, of developing nearsightedness. So even if your child has a relatively high chance of developing myopia, he or she may not do so depending on lifestyle, habits, and other factors.
2. Reading habits
Some researchers feel that reading habits and visual strain are somehow linked to myopia. This doesn't mean that reading causes nearsightedness. However, it may be that focusing long and hard on text (whether in a book or on a computer screen) may increase the likelihood of developing myopia. So if your child is prone to losing him- or herself in a book for hours on end, or tends to do homework all in one concentrated dose every evening, he or she may have a higher level of risk. To help manage this risk, minimize your child's eye strain by enforcing a habit of taking short breaks every twenty minutes or so. Remind your child also to look up from the screen or book and look around the room every five minutes to relax the eye muscles. You can set a timer to help your child develop this habit.
3. Outdoor activity
Several studies have focused on the links between a child's level of outdoor activity and his or her nearsightedness. Overall, there seems to be a slight tendency toward lower levels of myopia for children who spend many hours playing outside each week. This means that children who spend most of their free time indoors (whether or not they're playing video games) may develop myopia with a greater frequency than those who are exposed to the outdoor environment more regularly.
If your child is at high risk for myopia, you can do your best to manage the risk, but you should also keep an eye out for signs of developing nearsightedness. These include signs of eye discomfort (tearing up, eye rubbing, squinting) and frequent headaches, among other things. If you suspect your child is developing myopia, make an appointment with his or her optometrist at the earliest opportunity.Share