Progressive Nearsightedness in Children

Nearsightedness (myopia) is the inability to see objects clearly at a distance. Some children are born with a progressive form of nearsightedness, meaning that their uncorrected eyesight will worsen overtime. Glasses usually help children see normally, but do not eliminate the myopia.

What causes nearsightedness?

In people who are nearsighted, the eyeball is slightly longer than usual from front to back. Light rays which make up the images you see, focus in front of, rather than directly on the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye. When this happens, objects at a distance seem blurry and unclear.

Progressive nearsightedness is predominantly caused by genetic factors that may or may not be inherited from their parents. So parents may or may not have the same nearsightedness as their children.

How do I know if my child is nearsighted?

The main symptom of nearsightedness is an inability to see far away targets or objects clearly, so the child will have a tendency to get closer to them to see them. Uncommonly, nearsightedness may be accompanied by headaches, eyestrain, and fatigue. If your child shows any of these signs or symptoms, get his or her eyes checked by an eye doctor.

In addition, make sure your child is examined in the first year of life, at age three, and every few years afterwards, especially if there is a family history of progressive nearsightedness or other eye conditions.

How is nearsightedness treated in children?

It is still controversial whether progressive nearsightedness in children can be slowed down. The best treatment is to prescribe the necessary glasses so the child can see clearly.

Children can start wearing contact lenses when they are physically mature enough to take care of them. Depending on how involved the parents are in caring for the contacts. Pediatric ophthalmologists rarely recommend contact lenses before a child is a teenager.

Can nearsightedness be prevented?

Since nearsightedness is genetically determined in most cases, it is not possible to prevent its occurrence. Efforts should be directed at detecting it and treating it with the appropriate glasses or contact lenses. Refractive surgery is not recommended for children.


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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/20/2015...#10800.