Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Myopia (or nearsightedness) is a refractive error that affects an estimated 25 percent of Americans. If you are nearsighted, close objects look clear but distant objects appear blurred.  Myopia is an eye focusing disorder, not an eye disease.

Myopia in Children

Some children have a progressive form of nearsightedness, or myopia, that gets worse throughout childhood. Pediatric Myopia sufferers usually have no difficulty seeing up close, however, their vision is blurred in the distance. Very often, children with nearsightedness don't complain about their difficulties. Children with nearsightedness may require glasses or contacts to help them see in the distance.

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Parents frequently are concerned about the amount of time a child should wear the glasses. At a bare minimum, a child who has nearsightedness should use the glasses to help see the blackboard in school. If the child prefers to sit at home and watch television or go to movies and not see quite as well as he might with his glasses, this is not a cause for concern as it will in no way injure the eyes. As the nearsightedness increases, children recognize how well they see with their glasses and will frequently place their glasses on first thing in the morning and wear them throughout the day. This will in no way injure the eyes, but will rather provide them with good, clear vision throughout the day.

Contact lenses can be worn by most children. We usually prefer to wait until the children are a minimum of 9 years old so that the child is mature enough to properly care for the lenses and motivated enough to wear them. One major concern relating to contact lenses that parents often have is the cost of replacing contact lenses if the child needs a stronger prescription. Fortunately, the fee for replacing contact lenses runs about the same as the cost of a new pair of glasses. The original fee for contacts is understandably higher to cover the cost for the initial fitting and initial follow up visits. Although some people may tell you that pediatric nearsightedness can be prevented or delayed by wearing contact lenses, there is, unfortunately, no scientific evidence to support this, although, on occasion, we do see children whose nearsightedness seems to “slow down” after being fit with contact lenses.

The use of glasses in sports activities should be encouraged as this will provide your child with a normal vision during the activity. Since nearsighted children have difficulty seeing objects off in the distance, the use of glasses or contacts in sports played at a distance with a small object, such as baseball or tennis, may very well improve their performance. The one sport where the use of glasses is not quite as critical would be an activity such as soccer where the ball is large and, in addition, the children frequently use their head to make contact with the ball.

Glasses can be purchased in our optical shop. Our pediatric opticians specialize in children’s glasses and will help guide you to the proper spectacles for your child. Contact lenses are fitted in our office. If you have any questions in this regard, further information is available.

There is almost never any difficulty getting children, even young children, to wear glasses, if a positive attitude is taken by the people around the child. Should you have any questions or concerns, contact Thomas Eye Group in Atlanta, Sandy Springs or any one of our convenient locations.