Myopia or nearsightedness is a major health issue around the world. It is a common vision condition in which you can see close objects clearly, but distant objects appear blurry. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that half of the world's population may be myopic by 2050. Meanwhile, doctors are seeing an increasing cases of myopia in school-aged children since schools reopened after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Dr Ashis Ghosh, Sr Opthomatologist, Dr Agarwal Eye Hospitals, Pune, said that around 20-30 school-going children visit their hospital with their parents per day, with more numbers on weekends. They come with complaints of headache, not able to see the blackboard from last bench in the classroom, eye rubbing, eye redness, itching, squinting of eye, etc. Children aged 6-13 years are more affected with this condition, he said.
Reasons behind surge in myopia cases among children
According to Dr Ghosh, insufficient time spent in outdoor activities, which increased after the COVID-19 outbreak, has been recognized as a major risk factor for myopia development. The duration and intensity of near work activities are also associated with this common vision condition.
"We prescribe glasses, but in some kids developing squint or amblyopia we advise patching therapy or vision therapy," said Dr Ghosh.
The doctor advises parents to restrict their children from use of gadgets like mobile, tablet, iPad, computer screen, TV, etc.
Further, Dr Ghosh stated that children should be allowed to play outside so that they get sunlight exposure for at least 90-100 min/day, which helps to restrict the progression of myopia.
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Children should be given green vegetables, colourful fruits (antioxidant-rich fruits), and eggs for better eye health. Follow up check-up should be done twice in a year, he added.
Some facts about Myopia
Myopia is an eye focusing disorder, not an eye disease. It occurs when the shape of your cornea or lens causes light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly, focusing images in front of your retina instead of on your retina.
Myopia tends to run in families. This means, if one of your parents is nearsighted, your risk of developing the condition is higher. The risk is even higher if both parents are myopic.
This vision condition is often detected in children when they are between ages 8 and 12 years old. It may worsen during the teenage years, when the body grows rapidly.
While mild myopia is called low myopia, severe myopia is known as high myopia. People with high myopia may be more likely to develop glaucoma and cataracts.