As a kid, finding out you are nearsighted and need glasses can be exciting. Many little ones are thrilled to enter the world of eyewear and start to play with their personal style, but for others it can be intimidating to try something new and potentially stand out from their peers. It’s not unusual for parents to be experiencing these feelings of anticipation and worry too. But did you know that if you have concerns about your child’s nearsightedness there are some things you can do?

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a common vision condition that, while allowing you to see objects that are near to you clearly, objects that are far away are blurry. Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long, or the cornea at the front of the eye is too curved. Additionally, it can develop gradually or rapidly, often worsening during childhood and

“Myopia cannot be completely prevented at this time; however, there are methods that have shown to result in a slowing of the progression of nearsightedness,” says Dr. Danielle Gordon. “Currently, there are a few main methods that can help to manage the progression of myopia.”

Orthokeratology – a method whereby a custom-made rigid contact lens is worn overnight to reshape the cornea and temporarily neutralize the patient’s prescription. If successful, these patients would not need contacts or glasses during waking hours.
Pharmaceutical interventions – the use of an eyedrop regularly to reduce the progression of
Specialty glasses lenses – designed to create an optical cue to slow the lengthening of the eyeball and thus slow the increase in myopia
Specialty soft contact lenses – created to stop lengthening of the eyeball and the consequent increase in the prescription.

“Identifying visual difficulties due to a multitude of possible causes is one of the key things optometrists watch for at a child’s routine examination. The visual system continues to develop throughout childhood and hence the potential for good visual outcomes often increases the sooner a child with difficulties receives intervention or therapy. That’s why it’s so important for little ones to have their first exam around 6 months of age. It helps us to make sure that they are hitting their little milestones.”

The same way a routine physical is advised to monitor your general health, the same way a regular eye
examination is recommended even if your child’s eyes are normal and developing well.

“If they are in the normal prescription range, and their eyes are healthy, then annual exams are typically advised,” says Dr. Danielle. “Lastly, it’s important to remember that routine examinations and medically necessary appointments are covered by Alberta Health Care for those under 19 and over 65 so if you have concerns about your child’s vision, don’t hesitate to connect with an eye care professional!

Photo by Engin Akyurt