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Childhood Myopia Is in Crisis Mode on a Global Scale

When it comes to the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness), the statistics are staggering. By 2050, nearly half of the world’s population—about 5 billion people—will be myopic. Below are a few useful tips to help you prevent your child from being part of that statistic.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, causing light rays to focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it, while looking at something far away. So, people with nearsightedness perceive distant objects as blurred while close-up objects can remain clear.

Myopia tends to develop during childhood, when the eyeballs rapidly grow (along with the rest of the body), mainly between the ages of 8-18. It can worsen slowly or quickly, but it is not simply an inconvenience. People with progressive myopia are more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life—conditions which may lead to permanent loss of vision and even blindness.

How To Know Whether Your Child Is Myopic

Below are some telltale signs to watch for:

  • Blurred distance vision – Objects in the distance are blurred; kids may complain that they can’t see the board
  • Headaches – When myopia isn’t corrected, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
  • Head tilting or squinting – If your child squints or tilts his or her head while watching TV, for example, it may be a symptom of myopia.
  • Looking at objects too closely – If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or squinting as they try to see the writing on the board, it may indicate myopia.

What Parents Can Do to Slow Their Child’s Myopia Progression

  • Encourage your child to go outdoors for at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Studies show that playing outdoors reduces the risk of developing myopia and slows its progression.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen, reading and doing close work such as homework.
  • When your child uses a digital screen, make sure that it isn’t too close to the face.
  • Teach the 20-20-20 rule: During screen time, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object across the room or out the window about 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions with James Sinoway O.D.

Q: How is myopia diagnosed?

  • A: Your child’s eye doctor will perform a thorough pediatric eye exam to diagnose myopia, which often includes a visual acuity test, where the eye doctor will use an eye chart made up of letters of varied sizes. If the test results indicate myopia, then the optometrist may shine a light into their eyes and evaluate the reflection off the retina to determine the degree of refractive error for their prescription.

Q: Can myopia lead to blindness?

  • A: High myopia may increase your child’s risk of developing more serious eye conditions later in life, such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma. Left untreated, high myopia complications can sometimes lead to blindness—which is why routine eye exams are critical.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Midland Park, New Jersey. Visit James Tracey Eye Care for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Common Pediatric Eye Problems

Caring for your child’s eyes is always important, but especially during their early years, when their growing eyes are rapidly developing. Catching eye problems in their tracks can help minimize potential damage and may even make it possible to reverse the condition.

That’s why it’s important for parents to know about the most common pediatric eye problems and their symptoms.

Refractive Errors

The 3 most common refractive errors found in children are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (irregularly curved cornea). These conditions prevent light from focusing on the correct area of the retina, causing blurred vision.

Signs to watch for:

  • Eye strain or headache after a child performs visually demanding activities
  • Frequent squinting or head tilting
  • Sitting very close to the television or computer
  • Holding books or screens very close to the face

Amblyopia

Also known as lazy eye, amblyopia occurs when one eye doesn’t achieve normal visual acuity and is weaker than the other. Amblyopia is often difficult to detect, since the child will often rely on their fully functioning eye and may even be unaware of the problem. Early detection is crucial because amblyopia can lead to vision loss. Furthermore, once a child is 8-10 years old, it becomes much harder to correct.

Signs to watch for:

  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Squinting
  • Frequently closing one eye
  • Head tilting
  • Difficulty reading/doing math/playing sports
  • Difficulty with attention and focus

Nystagmus

Nystagmus is characterized by rapid, involuntary, back-and-forth eye movements that can either be congenital or acquired. Congenital nystagmus usually sets in within the first months of life, and acquired nystagmus develops after 6 months of age. Nystagmus can accompany a multitude of other eye problems, so be sure to bring your child to an eye doctor if they show any symptoms.

Signs to watch for: Eyes that rapidly and repetitively move from side to side, up and down, or in a circle.

Pediatric Cataracts

Cataracts don’t just affect adults — an estimated 20,000-40,000 children are born with cataracts each year worldwide. Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s normally clear lens in one or both eyes. Depending on the location and severity of the cataract, it can impair vision.

Signs to watch for:

  • Difficulty seeing objects and recognizing faces
  • Eyes that point in different directions
  • Nystagmus
  • White- or gray-colored pupil

Strabismus

Strabismus is the medical term for when the eyes are misaligned or “crossed.” Left untreated, strabismus can lead to amblyopia and result in permanent vision loss.

Signs to watch for:

  • An eye that points upward, downward, inward, or outward
  • Head tilting, in an effort to align the eyes
  • Frequent and excessive squinting, especially in bright light

How We Can Help

At James Tracey Eye Care, we provide comprehensive eye exams and other eye care services to detect and potentially prevent eye problems for all members of the family.

When it comes to pediatric eye problems, early detection and treatment usually means a better outcome. If you suspect that your child has a vision problem, or to schedule a routine pediatric eye exam, call James Tracey Eye Care in Midtown today!

At James Tracey Eye Care, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 646-916-4588 or book an appointment online to see one of our Midtown eye doctors.

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Could Vision Problems Be Behind My Child’s Reading and Learning Difficulties?

Up to 25% of children have a visual problem impacting how they perform in school, and many have a misalignment of the eyes known as Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD). Most of the time BVD has no known cause. It can occur as a result of an injury, concussion while playing sports, facial asymmetry, or genetics. BVD symptoms can seriously impact your child’s quality of life.

Does My Child Have BVD?

Have you ever heard of BVD? Many teachers and parents haven’t, and because of this they aren’t aware of its signs and symptoms. When a child has difficulty paying attention or learning in class, experiences motion sickness, or complains of headaches or blurry vision, they could have BVD. Any amount of eye misalignment can lead to reading problems and difficulty paying attention.

Binocular Vision Dysfunction and Learning Difficulties

Binocular Vision Dysfunction can cause blurry or possibly double vision. This affects school performance because a child with BVD has a difficult time comprehending words on a page and and reading.

Sometimes children diagnosed with certain conditions related to concentration and/or learning are actually suffering from BVD. These can include:

Dyslexia

Dyslexia is often known to cause trouble with spelling, letter jumbling, and word sequences. These same symptoms are found in children with BVD.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Children suffering from ADD and ADHD struggle with the ability to pay attention. BVD can cause double and blurred vision, making reading and comprehending words on a page difficult. Visual misalignment — and not ADHD/ADD — may be causing your child to find it hard to concentrate.

How to Treat BVD

When BVD causes a child to struggle while reading and learning in school, specialized aligning glasses can help. They allow your child to see clearly without causing strain or stress on their eyes while reducing distorted and blurred vision and words. Once your child’s BVD is treated, this can alleviate and possibly eliminate their learning difficulties. These aligning lenses can also help the two eyes to function and work as a team, making reading easier for your child.

Understanding the source of reading and learning difficulties can help your child succeed in school and boost self-confidence. At James Tracey Eye Care in Woodcliff Lake, Midland Park, we can treat your child’s binocular vision dysfunction. Schedule an appointment today and learn how we can help.

At James Tracey Eye Care, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 646-916-4588 or book an appointment online to see one of our Midtown eye doctors.

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