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The Link Between Myopia Progression and COVID Confinement

The Link Between Myopia Progression and COVID Confinement 640×350Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic eye doctors began to notice that children’s myopia was worsening. Researchers set out to learn whether there was, in fact, a link between the pandemic and increased myopia progression, and if so, why.

How The Pandemic Affected Children’s Vision

A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology (2021) found that children aged 6 to 13 experienced an increased rate of myopia progression since the beginning of the pandemic, and the lockdowns and restrictions that accompanied it.

The researchers examined the rate of myopia progression from 2015 to 2020 in more than 120,000 children from 10 elementary schools, based on school vision screenings. By the end of the study, children were shown to have significantly higher rates of myopia progression in 2020 than in previous years.

The higher rate of progression was especially severe in children between the ages of 6 and 8. Researchers theorized that the children’s earlier stage of visual development might have been the crucial factor.

Other studies have already determined that children who spend at least 2 hours a day outdoors experience less myopia progression than their peers who stay mostly indoors.

Researchers from the National Eye Institute found that children who spent significant time outdoors — about 14 hours a week — significantly reduced their chances of needing glasses for myopia. Among children with two myopic parents, the chances of needing glasses are roughly 60% if they don’t spend significant time outdoors. However, this study found that, after spending the prescribed 14 hours per week outside, the same children’s risk of myopia dropped to around 20%.

Similar results appear in a study published by the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (February 2019), that shows a significant link between the amount of time children spend engaged in near-work tasks and increased myopia progression.

Taken together, these studies give us a clearer picture of the challenges children have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why myopia rates in children have soared.

What Can Parents Learn From All Of This?

Parents should make an effort to encourage their children to go outside as often as possible and to spend more time away from screens and other near-work tasks. Moreover, progressive myopia in childhood has been linked to heightened risks of developing sight-robbing eye diseases later in life, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts.

If you’re concerned about your child’s myopia, make an appointment with their eye doctor as soon as possible, as delays in seeking professional advice can make myopia management more challenging in the future.

Our practice offers myopia management to patients from Plano, North Dallas, Fort Worth, and DFW Metroplex, Texas and surrounding communities.

 

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33443542/

https://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(17)33464-4/fulltext

 

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The Four Best Ways to Treat and Manage Myopia

If you or your children have myopia and it is getting worse each year, this article is for you. We will be discussing the four best ways to treat your myopia so it no longer gets worse. Everything we discuss is based on solid science and research, double-masked clinical trials, and recommendations based on mountains of peer-reviewed data. Certainly, we’ve heard and researched other more holistic approaches, if they turn out to be effective, know that this is surely a growing field however and as things change you’ll certainly hear it from us first!

What is Myopia?

Before you can defeat your enemy, you need to know exactly what it is. Myopia is a disease of the eye that is usually the result of an eyeball that has grown too long. We call how long the eyeball is the ‘axial length’. When the axial length grows excessively long, your vision will suffer in direct correlation. So any treatment we discuss has to show efficacy in its ability to reduce axial length elongation compared to a control group. Other times, the cornea may be too steep which can also cause myopia. However, for the sake of this article, we will address the major cause of myopia which is the excessive axial length of the eye. As when we talk about managing myopia, we will be talking about ways that have shown clinical evidence in slowing down axial length growth.

Custom Orthokeratology or Overnight Contact Lenses

Orthokeratology involves using a specially designed contact lens to gently reshape the cornea. The lenses are worn only while sleeping and are removed upon awakening in the morning. There are other names for orthokeratology such as corneal reshaping treatment, gentle vision shaping system, and custom retainers. The technology works by gently flattening the curvature of the cornea to redirect light directly onto the retina.

While initially created to help improve vision so that children and adults can see more clearly, studies have shown that the technology is extremely effective in reducing the rate of myopia progression. The theory is that light is focused in front of the retina in your peripheral vision. This effect changes the optical signals the eye receives to stimulate eye growth. Like all contact lenses, patients need to be diligent in handwashing and cleaning, and disinfecting the lenses for safe use. However, studies show that with proper hygiene this is an incredibly safe and effective treatment for treating children of almost any age.

Atropine

Atropine is a pharmaceutical agent that can be made into an eye drop. This eye drop has been used for many years to treat children with amblyopia, or sometimes called a ‘lazy eye’. It can be used to dilate the pupils of the eye and also used to treat uveitis as well. What we’ve learned as well is that the use of a diluted concentration of atropine can also slow down the speed of myopia progression. The mechanism of action is still little known, but we believe that it blocks certain signals of the eye to reduce the signal to grow longer. By slowing down the speed at which the axial length increases, this can directly impact the rate of myopic progression.

Custom Soft Multifocal Contact Lenses

More contact lenses are being designed and FDA approved to slow down myopic progression. The MiSight contact lens is an example that has been shown to slow down the rate of myopia by almost 60% compared to control groups. These lenses have different powers throughout the lens that optically focuses light in front of the peripheral retina. By designing these special powers, a patient can wear a simple contact lens during the day to treat both the vision problems associated with myopia as well as prevent the eye from growing too long.

Special Myopia Treating Eyeglasses

More glasses are coming out that can also redirect light in a similar fashion to orthokeratology and soft multifocal contact lenses. This is a particularly exciting alternative for patients who cannot tolerate contact lenses and are wary of putting pharmaceutical drugs into their children’s bodies. From large bifocal eyeglasses to lenses with specialized rings of power in them, lenses are becoming more and more advanced to prevent axial length elongation.

Treehouse Eyes Can Help Prevent Myopia Progression

The good news is we help prevent or slow down myopia progression in kids—just like yours—so they can have their best shot at academic and social success! Above are four of the best ways we treat myopic progression once your child has been diagnosed with myopia. Orthokeratology involves reshaping the eye gently with a contact lens while sleeping. Atropine involves an eye drop that can signal the eye to grow a little slower. Custom soft multifocal lenses are worn during the day. And even specially designed glasses are on the horizon to improve the progression of myopia.

The Treehouse Eyes eye doctors use state-of-the-art equipment to develop a personalized treatment plan for your child. Our non-invasive treatments include customized contact lenses and special prescription eye drops. Moreover, data shows that our patent-pending Treehouse Vision System® treatment plan can decrease myopia progression by 78%.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, visit our online scheduler, or to see a list of all providers near you visit Treehouse Eyes today.

Can Restricting Online Gaming Time Reduce Myopia Progression?

Two kids playing online gamesThe Chinese government recently implemented a new policy that’s sparked conversations about childhood myopia and online gaming.

Under the policy, Chinese children and teens under the age of 18 are only permitted to play online video games for one hour on weekend evenings and public holidays — a significant reduction compared to their previous online gaming allotment. This restriction includes all forms of video games, from handheld devices to computer and smartphone gaming.

The government hopes to combat a common condition called online gaming disorder, or video game addiction, which affects more than 30% of children in China. Another potential benefit of limiting online gaming may be a reduction in childhood myopia progression, something we explore below.

The Link Between Online Gaming and Myopia Progression

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition that causes blurred distance vision. Several factors contribute to the onset and progression of myopia, including genetic and environmental.

Several studies have found that screen time, along with other forms of near work, is associated with higher levels of myopia and myopia progression in children.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology (2019), children who engage in screen time for more than 3 hours per day have almost 4 times the risk of becoming myopic. Younger children, around ages 6-7, are even more susceptible to experiencing screen-related nearsightedness, with 5 times the risk compared to children who don’t use digital screens.

Limiting screen time may also encourage children to spend more time outdoors in the sun, a protective factor against developing myopia and slowing its progression.

In The Sydney Adolescent Vascular and Eye Study (2013), researchers found that spending at least 21 hours outdoors per week was more important for delaying the onset of myopia than limiting near work in both younger and older children, although both were effective.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Although online gaming can give children a sense of community and togetherness, excessive online gaming can increase a child’s risk of developing myopia and contribute to its progression.

The good news is that parents can make eye-healthy choices for their children that can have lifelong benefits. Limiting near work activities like online gaming and other screen time, and encouraging your children to play outdoors can significantly reduce their chances of developing high (severe) myopia.

How Myopia Management Can Help

The best thing that parents can offer their children to prevent myopia and halt its progression is a custom-made myopia management treatment plan with an eye doctor.

Whether or not myopia has set in already, we can help preserve your child’s eye health and lower their risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal detachment in the future.

To learn more about our services or schedule your child’s myopia consultation, contact The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas in Plano today!

The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas offers myopia management to patients from Plano, North Dallas, Fort Worth, and DFW Metroplex, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Charles Shidlofsky

Q: Who is an ideal candidate for myopia management?

  • A: Children, teens, and young adults who are nearsighted or are at risk of becoming nearsighted are ideal candidates for myopia management. If you think myopia management is right for you or your child, speak with us about how we can help. Remember, the sooner your child starts myopia management, the better their outcome will be.

Q: Is myopia management based on scientific evidence?

  • A: Yes! The treatments used in myopia management are all safe and clinically proven to slow the onset and progression of myopia in children and teens. There have been several scientific studies that support its effectiveness.

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Why Ortho-K Is A Great Alternative To LASIK

Why Ortho K Is A Great Alternative To LASIK 640×350Most people elect to have refractive surgery like LASIK for the hassle-free, crisp vision it provides. But did you know that you can achieve the same results as LASIK without undergoing surgery?

Orthokeratology, commonly referred to as ortho-k, safely eliminates the need for daytime glasses or contact lens wear by correcting myopia (nearsightedness), and is a popular alternative to LASIK surgery.

What Is Ortho-K?

Ortho-k uses rigid gas-permeable contact lenses to gently and safely reshape the front surface of the eye, the cornea, for clear daytime vision. These specialized lenses are designed to be worn overnight while you sleep, and removed in the morning, leaving you with corrected, stable vision throughout the day.

These custom-designed lenses work by gently applying light pressure to the epithelial layer of the cornea and molding its shape to alter its focusing power.

What are the Advantages of Ortho-K Over LASIK?

Lower Risk of Complications

Any medical device or procedure involves some risk of complications. Both ortho-k and LASIK have associated risks, but those of LASIK are considered more serious.

LASIK complications, while rare, can leave patients with corneal disorders, such as astigmatism or severe dry eye syndrome and — more commonly — visual problems like glare, distortion and seeing halos around lights.

In contrast, the risks associated with ortho-k lenses are no different from those connected to any other rigid contact lenses. Poor hygiene is the biggest risk factor for developing contact-lens irritation and complications.

Orthokeratology is Reversible

LASIK surgery is not reversible, and in the event of complications, further medical procedures may be necessary to correct any resulting problems.

Ortho-k, on the other hand, is non-invasive and completely reversible if you ever decide to cease treatment. After a few nights of not wearing the lenses, your corneas will slowly revert back to their original, natural shape.

Better For Dry Eyes

If you have symptoms of dry eye syndrome like dryness and irritation, you may want to think twice before undergoing LASIK. A common side effect of LASIK is dry eye syndrome, and many people who already have the condition are advised to not have refractive surgery.

Dry eye syndrome can also make it uncomfortable to wear standard contact lenses.

Ortho-k is great for people with mild to moderate dry eyes because there’s no need to wear eyewear, such as standard contacts, during the day.

More Cost-Effective

Both LASIK and ortho-k will most likely save you money in the long term, as eyeglasses, contact lenses and other related expenses are no longer incurred. That said, in most cases, the up-front expenses of ortho-k lenses are about half the cost of LASIK surgery.

The exact cost of ortho-k lenses will vary depending on many factors and the degree of your refractive error.

Reduce Myopia Progression

Myopia, or nearsightedness, significantly increases the risk of developing sight-threatening diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment and macular degeneration later in life. The higher (worse) the myopia, the greater the risk. As myopia progresses and worsens, the risks further increase.

Slowing myopia can effectively reduce this risk. Myopia can continue to worsen into a person’s 20’s, and at least 10% of nearsighted adults from ages 20 and older will still experience some degree of myopia progression.

Ortho-k has been clinically proven to slow the progression of myopia in children and young adults, making it an excellent treatment for nearsightedness.

LASIK, on the other hand, offers no such benefits. Refractive surgeries simply alter the focusing power of the cornea to produce clear vision, while ignoring the underlying problem that causes the eyeball elongation associated with myopia.

LASIK is only offered to those whose eyes have stopped growing, usually people 21 and older. So, unlike ortho-k, it generally cannot slow the myopia progression in teens and young adults.

In fact, many teenagers and young adults who are interested in eventually choosing LASIK use ortho-k lenses to stabilize their myopia and increase their chance of successful LASIK outcomes in their 20s, once their eyes stop growing.

Interested in Ortho-K? We Can Help!

If you are interested in correcting your vision without surgery or the need to wear daytime contact lenses or glasses, contact us to learn if ortho-k lenses are right for your eyes and lifestyle.

At The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas, our friendly and knowledgeable optometric team will guide you through all of your options and help you achieve optimal vision.

To learn more about ortho-k or to schedule a consultation, call The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas today!

The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas offers myopia management to patients from Plano, North Dallas, Fort Worth, and DFW Metroplex, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Charles Shidlofsky

Q: Who is a candidate for Ortho-K?

  • A: Children (ages 8 and above) and adults with mild to moderate nearsightedness/astigmatism who want clear vision without daytime eyewear are great candidates for orthokeratology. Ortho-k is also a great option for athletes who require stable vision without worrying about eyewear that can be damaged.

Q: Are there any disadvantages of Ortho-K?

  • A: Ortho-k lenses must be cleaned after each use to maintain hygiene and reduce the risk of contact lens-related problems. Occasionally, ortho-k lenses aren’t suitable for patients with very high prescriptions.

References

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Childhood Myopia: What It Is and What You Can Do To Help Your Child

treehouse eyes myopia care for kids imgDozens of parents bring their children into our practices every day for eye exams and other services, and many ask us questions about myopia. While instances and awareness of myopia are on the rise, to help spread myopia awareness we’ve written out the basics on childhood myopia, why it matters, and what you as a parent can do to help preserve your child’s eye health in the long run.

What is Myopia?

Myopia (often referred to as nearsightedness) is the most common cause of impaired vision in people under age 40, and its prevalence in children is growing at an alarming rate.

Myopia typically starts in childhood and progresses (the eye keeps getting bigger), or gets worse, until early adulthood. During this time the symptom of myopia, blurry distance vision, gets worse, meaning the patient needs stronger glasses to continue to see clearly. If blurry distance vision is the symptom of myopia, what exactly is myopia? Stated again, myopia is an eye that is growing too long. How do we know this?

We measure it using special non-invasive technology to calculate the length of the eye from the front (cornea) to the back (retina). This distance is known as the axial length and is measured down to fractions of a millimeter with advanced equipment. So, myopia is an abnormal elongation of the eye.

Risk Factors for Myopia

Myopia risk factors include genetics (having one or both parents myopic), an insufficient amount of time spent outdoors, and excessive near work (time spent reading, school work, & digital screens).

Childhood myopia is progressive, which is why your child may need a new prescription every year or two. Unless treated, a child’s myopia will continue to worsen until early adulthood. What some people don’t realize is that myopia is far more than simply blurred vision — it’s associated with drastically higher risk of developing eye disease in the future.

How Can Myopia Impact a Child’s Health?

Childhood myopia places a child at a greater risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life, as compared to non-myopic children, and the odds only increase as myopia continues to progress.

In fact, a child with myopia is 2 to 40 times more likely to develop myopic maculopathy (also known as myopic macular degeneration, a serious vision-threatening complication) depending on their degree of nearsightedness.

Retinal detachment is another serious eye condition that can cause permanent blindness. A myopic child is 3 to 21 times more likely to develop this emergency eye condition in adulthood.

Moreover, children with myopia have a threefold risk of developing glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness worldwide, in the long run.

And although cataracts are considered a normal part of aging, having myopia advances the age at which they develop. According to a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, individuals with high myopia are more likely to need cataract surgery at an earlier age than those with no myopia.

Furthermore, aside from an increased risk of adult eye disease, untreated myopia can prevent a child from succeeding academically and socially.

A 2019 study published in the Community Eye Health Journal underscores the importance of excellent visual acuity in school-aged children. It found that offering vision correction to students with myopia has more of an educational impact than providing them with vitamins or medications to maintain or improve their physical health.

Myopia has equally serious ramifications outside the classroom. A study published in BMC Ophthalmology (2016) found that adolescents with myopia are more likely to have anxiety than their peers with normal vision.

Furthermore, adverse visual symptoms impact a child’s self-esteem, according to a study published in the Journal of Optometry and Vision Science.

The good news is that certain lifestyle choices, especially when coupled with myopia management treatment, can have a lasting positive effect on your child’s eye health.

What Can Parents Do To Help Slow Myopia Progression?

We know that parents want what’s best for their children. So here are a few recommendations that will help keep your child’s eyes healthy — whether or not myopia has set in.

Take your kids outside to play. Several studies have indicated that children who spend over 2 hours outdoors during the day have lower levels of myopia and slower myopia progression.

A recent study published in BMC Ophthalmology and cited in Review of Optometry (2021) found that for non-myopic children with myopic parents, “a high level of outdoor exposure had a remarkable influence on the risk of new myopia for children even with one myopic parent.”

Although it’s not always easy, try to limit the amount of continuous near work your child does. Whether it’s reading or scrolling through a phone, remind your child to take breaks.

However, the most important thing you can do to protect your child’s long-term eye health is manage their myopia with treatment.

We Can Help Preserve Your Child’s Eye Health

At Treehouse Eyes, our goal is to provide expert care to each and every child with kindness and a smile.

Our state-of-the-art equipment and diagnostic technology enable us to thoroughly assess your child’s visual condition and needs. We offer the latest treatments to manage your child’s myopia and effectively slow down how quickly myopia progresses.

Help your child succeed in school and in activities, and offer them a better overall quality of life with myopia management.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, call
972-312-0177 or to see a list of all providers near you visit Treehouse Eyes today.

Can Myopia be Cured?

Can Myopia be Cured 640×350Myopia is not simply an inconvenience—it can have serious sight-threatening consequences in adulthood. And while myopia (nearsightedness) has no known cure, there are certain treatments and management strategies that can (and should) be implemented when a child has myopia.

What is Myopia?

Myopia is a common refractive error that makes it hard to see distant objects clearly. This refractive error occurs when light passing through the eye does not focus correctly on the retina at the back of the eye.

Nearsighted people see distant items as blurry, while nearby objects tend to remain clear. Although eyeglasses and standard contact lenses can correct a person’s vision, they do not cure or slow down myopia’s progression.

Myopia usually starts in childhood and tends to increase as the eyeballs rapidly grow. It can progress slowly or quickly, especially between the ages of 8 and 18, at which time it typically stabilizes.

Myopia isn’t just about having to wear corrective glasses or lenses. As myopia worsens, the child is more likely to develop serious eye diseases later in life that can result in irreversible vision loss or blindness, like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal detachment.

Treatments to Slow and Prevent Myopia Progression

While there is no cure for myopia, there are a number of treatments that can slow its progression and even halt it completely in children and young teens.

Our experts work directly with each family to create treatment plans tailored to your child’s specific needs. We thoroughly evaluate your child’s vision, prescribe the treatment most suited to them, and track their progress to ensure the best possible outcome. Follow-up visits are usually scheduled every 6-12 months to evaluate the treatment’s effectiveness.

Other ways to slow or prevent myopia

Outdoor activity and natural lighting

According to a recent study published by Ophthalmic Research (2020), children who spend more time outside (at least 14 hours per week) have lower levels of myopia (or none at all) as compared to those who spend significantly fewer hours outdoors.

Limited time on devices

Another study, published by PLOS One (2015), found a relationship between near-work activities and myopia progression. While more research is needed, various studies have found that excessive time spent on near-work activities like reading a book, using a computer and playing games on digital devices is linked to myopia. As a result, eye doctors recommend that parents keep track of and limit the amount of time their child spends on a phone or other digital devices.

If your child has myopia, book a myopia management assessment to determine whether they could benefit from this life-changing treatment. The child’s age, as well as their maturity level and lifestyle, will all play a role in determining which treatment to offer and the best time to begin myopia management.

Speak with Dr. Charles Shidlofsky, who will advise you on the best myopia management treatment options for your child’s vision and lifestyle.

The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas serves patients from Plano, North Dallas, Fort Worth, and DFW Metroplex, Texas and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Charles Shidlofsky

Q: What is progressive myopia?

  • A: Progressive myopia is nearsightedness that worsens year after year. Severe myopia, also known as high myopia, can develop as a result of this trend, which can have significant eye health consequences in late adulthood.

Q: Can myopia lead to blindness?

  • A: Myopia in childhood has been linked to serious, vision-threatening eye conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration later in life. Furthermore, extreme myopia can progress to a stage known as degenerative myopia, which can result in significant loss of vision and even legal blindness.

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5 Spooky Things You Didn’t Know About Myopia

myopia management

Myopia (most often referred to as nearsightedness) affects about one in every three children in the United States and has become increasingly prevalent over the last 30 years.

Myopia is an eye disease that occurs when the eye grows too long—like the shape of a football. This causes distant objects to appear blurry and increases the risk of serious, sight-threatening eye diseases in adulthood.

As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. By learning these 5 important facts, you may feel encouraged to do more for your child’s eye health and long-term vision—such as ensuring that they get their eyes checked on a regular basis and turning to myopia management to prevent the rapid progression of this disease.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Increased Myopia Prevalence In Children

The significant reduction in outdoor time during the pandemic combined with the surge in screen time has increased the incidence of myopia cases. According to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in Ophthalmic Research (2020), outdoor time helps slow down the change of axial length and reduce the risk of myopia.

Similar results were found in a previous study in Ophthalmology (2013) that investigated the association between myopia in children and adolescents, and the amount of time spent outdoors. The study analyzed over 10,000 children and adolescents aged 20 and under and concluded a substantial correlation between increased time spent outside and the prevalence of myopia. Each additional hour spent outside per week was linked to a 2% reduction in the risk of myopia.

Myopia Increases the Risk of Eye Disease

Those with high myopia and rapidly progressing myopia in childhood are more prone to developing ocular comorbidities or serious sight-threatening eye diseases later in life, such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Myopic Maculopathy
  • Retinal detachment

Myopia is a Progressive Eye Disease

Myopia usually starts in childhood and progresses throughout a child’s school years, eventually stabilizing around ages 18-22.

Since the eye grows in sync with the rest of the body, it’s only natural that it ceases elongating in early adulthood when the rest of the body stops growing. This also means that a child’s growth spurts often coincide with a higher prescription.

Fortunately, myopia can be efficiently treated in order to prevent it from worsening as the child grows. Slowing myopia early in life can make a significant difference in your child’s eye health in their present and future.

Myopia Is An Epidemic

Myopia is a global epidemic that continues to worsen, affecting close to 2 billion individuals worldwide.

If current trends hold, roughly half of the world’s population will be myopic by the year 2050, partly due to genetics and increasingly as a result of our society’s preference for staying indoors and spending more time on digital screens.

Myopia Can Be Treated

Myopia cannot be cured; however, its progression can be slowed or even halted.

The goal of myopia treatment, also known as myopia management or myopia control, is to reduce or halt the eye’s rapid growth. Effective myopia treatment entails more than simply correcting a child’s blurry vision with glasses; it’s meant to prevent a child’s vision from deteriorating and, thus lowering their risk of developing severe myopia-related eye diseases later in life.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, call 972-312-0177 or to see a list of all providers near you visit Treehouse Eyes today.

How Much Time Should My Child Spend Outdoors?

child outdoor 640The benefits of outdoor play are well known. It allows children to exercise, socialize, develop skills like problem-solving and risk-taking and lets them soak up some vitamin D.

A lesser-known benefit of outdoor play is its effect on myopia (nearsightedness). Numerous studies have confirmed an association between increased “sun time” and lower levels of myopia.

Below, we’ll explore why this is and recommend ways to keep your child’s eyes healthy, whether or not they are nearsighted.

Why “Sun Time” Helps Control Myopia

While researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the exact reason, some believe that the sun’s intense brightness and increased vitamin D play a role. Others theorize that children who spend time looking into the distance while outdoors prevent myopia from progressing or even developing.

How Much Outdoor Time Is Recommended?

There isn’t a unanimous opinion on an exact amount of time, but the general recommendation is that children ages 6 and up should spend 2 or more hours outdoors per day.

It’s important to note that UV rays can be harmful to the eyes and skin. So before you send your little ones out to play, be sure to hand them a pair of UV-blocking [sunglasses], a wide-brimmed hat and sunblock lotion.

What Can Parents Do For Their Children’s Vision and Eye Health?

Encourage your children to spend time outdoors whenever possible. It is also important to follow local health guidelines pertaining to the exposure of children to sunlight. Limit their daily screen time, and offer minimal screen time (if any) to children under the age of 2.

Make sure your child takes frequent breaks whenever doing near work like homework, reading, and spending time on a digital screen. A 5-10 minute break should be encouraged for every hour of near work.

However, the best thing you can do for your myopic child is to provide them with myopia management treatments, all of which have been scientifically proven to reduce the progression of myopia and risk of sight-robbing eye diseases later in life.

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, call The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas today!

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Charles Shidlofsky

Q: What is myopia?

  • A: A: Myopia is the most common refractive error among children and young adults. It occurs when the eye elongates, and rays of light are focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it. For those with nearsightedness, distant objects appear blurred while nearby objects remain clear. Although eyeglasses and standard contact lenses can correct a person’s vision, they do not treat the underlying cause of myopia or slow its progression.

Q: Why is myopia management important?

  • A: A: By 2050, half of the world’s population is expected to be diagnosed with myopia. That’s worrying because having myopia raises the risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life. Myopia management, which entails the use of eye drops, specialized contact lenses or multifocal glasses, can help slow the often rapid visual deterioration caused by myopia in children. If you’re concerned that your child’s vision is deteriorating, contact us today. We can help.

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The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas serves patients from Plano, North Dallas, Fort Worth, and DFW Metroplex, all throughout Texas.

Book Online
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The Myopia Management Center at Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas serves patients from Plano, North Dallas, Fort Worth, and DFW Metroplex, all throughout Texas.

Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) Launches “Little Kid License” Myopia Awareness Campaign

The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) recently launched its “Little Kid License” campaign to continue to raise awareness of childhood myopia and the new treatment options available. GMAC, of which Treehouse Eyes is a member, invited junior racers to the go-kart track for an unexpected eye exam before heading out for some fun!

A recent survey of parents by the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition found ​​”… half of the parents reported their children spent more than four hours using electronic devices each day during the pandemic, compared to 18% of parents reporting the same behavior prior to the pandemic.”

Most children don’t notice anything is wrong with their vision until it starts to really impact their activities. Eye screenings done by a pediatrician are important, but they don’t always pick up on myopia, especially at lower levels. This is why GMAC decided it was more important than ever to raise awareness of myopia and the treatments available. Watch the “Little Kid License” video now:

In the same survey mentioned above, GMAC discovered that “… more than 70% of parents believe their pediatrician will flag any issues related to their children’s eyesight and, almost the same amount trust that their child would say something if they had vision issues.” Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

But, why is this such an important problem to face? Myopia develops rapidly as children grow. Remember, your child’s eye grows like any other part of their body as they age. Since children are prone to growth spurts, naturally their eyes are as well. Myopia occurs when a child’s eyes grow too fast, leading to blurry distance vision and greater risk for eye diseases later in life.

We know the start of the school year is insanely busy with back-to-school activities along with the everyday obligations of work and life, but it’s now more important than ever to find a provider that understands how to diagnose and treat your child’s myopia.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, visit our online scheduler or to see a list of all providers near you visit Treehouse Eyes today.

How You Can Help Your Child Excel in School This Year

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The start of a new school year can be overwhelming, even for the most confident children. That’s why parents are doing whatever they can to help their children successfully transition to the next academic grade. Below, we share our top tips for parents, so they can ensure that their child’s vision is a tool for success in school.

1. Balance Indoor and Outdoor Time

Outdoor play offers numerous benefits, but many children aren’t getting enough of it. Most children spend much of their time indoors, whether in a classroom, at home, or in after-school activities.

Kids who regularly play outdoors have improved motor skills, feel more independent, and practice important social skills.

But the main benefit of “outdoor time” that eye doctors like to focus on is the lower incidence of myopia (where distant objects appear blurry). Numerous studies published in journals like Ophthalmic Research and Review Of Optometry have shown that children who spend 1.5-2.5 hours per day outdoors during the daytime have a reduced risk of becoming myopic or, if they have myopia, it progresses at a slower pace.

Sending your kids outside to play every day will help their vision, overall health, and contribute to academic success.

2. Encourage Your Child To Take Frequent Breaks

Once the new school year begins, students are often busy with daily homework, reading assignments, and visually demanding recreational activities like video games.

While all of these activities are important, they shouldn’t be done without periodic breathers.

Eye strain is a real concern for the many students who spend hours in front of a book or screen and can put a damper on their grades.

Minimally, have your child follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes they should focus for 20 seconds on an object that’s at least 20 feet away.

Even better, encourage slightly longer breaks for a snack in the sun, or a quick walk around the block to allow their eyes to focus on more distant objects.

3. Have Their Eyes Examined by an Optometrist

Whether or not your child wears glasses, yearly eye exams will help ensure healthy visual development.

It’s no surprise that children who don’t see well perform at a lower level than their peers. In some cases, young children aren’t even aware that their vision has changed, or they may not be able to verbally express it.

At our practice, our eye exams go far beyond the standard vision screenings offered in school. We thoroughly check your child’s eye health and several visual skills, including visual acuity, focusing, tracking and teaming.

If your child has myopia we will discuss if they are a candidate for myopia management. Myopia management treatments can slow or stop myopia in children and teens and doing so will minimize their risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life.

4. Filter Out Blue Light

Now, more than ever, children’s eyes are focusing on screens of all shapes and sizes. While science hasn’t yet confirmed the damaging effects of blue light on a child’s eyes, one thing is certain: blue light exposure (especially in the evening) can lead to reduced sleep quality.

Good-quality sleep is crucial for cognitive and physical development, which is why many parents purchase blue light glasses or utilize blue light filters such as screens and software on devices. Blue light also contributes to digital eye strain, leading to symptoms like eye pain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes. If your child uses a tablet, smartphone, or computer before bedtime, speak with us about whether blue light glasses or lens coatings can help.

Give your child the tools they need to succeed! To schedule your child’s back-to-school eye exam, visit /appointment-request-form/ or see a list of all providers at Treehouse Eyes today.