Nearsightedness, formally known as myopia, is one of the most common vision problems identified in early childhood and is caused by accelerated eye growth. Kids with this condition are usually able to see things well up close, but struggle to see things further away (such as the “chalkboard”).
While often diagnosed around 1st or 2nd grade, the pandemic has not only contributed to an increase of cases but has been the cause of later diagnoses as many kids spent the past year at home, virtual learning. In fact, a recent study conducted by the JAMA found cases of myopia have increased 1.4 to 3 times over previous years in children aged 6 to 8, attributing the increase to an overwhelming number of families spending more time indoors attached to a device rather than outdoors.
While being diagnosed with myopia isn’t anything to fear, it is important to treat myopia as soon as possible (usually with glasses or contact lenses) so that your child can see better in the classroom and prevent further vision-related conditions later in life. With that in mind, today we’ll discuss how you can boost your child’s confidence and best treat myopia in kids, including 10 specific ways to slow down the progression of the disorder beyond corrective lenses from Jonas Paul Eyewear.
What is Myopia?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Myopia or nearsightedness is a refractive error, which means that the eye doesn’t bend or refract light properly. This causes distant images to be blurry. Affecting an estimated 42% of Americans (which has increased from 25% since 1971), and often inherited from a parent, myopia is typically discovered in children between the ages of 8 and 12, and can worsen as a child ages.
Often thought of as a “disease,” myopia is actually a vision disorder that occurs when a person’s eyeball grows too much lengthwise (front to back). In people with normal or “20/20” vision, light enters the eye and focuses directly on the retina to produce a clear image. However, in myopic eyes, the light focuses in front of the retina which creates a blurred image.
In the whole scheme of things, myopia isn’t that big of a deal, but there’s a strong correlation between high amounts of myopia and a risk for other eye diseases such as macular degeneration, retinal detachments, glaucoma and cataracts – all of which can lead to blindness. That risk increases up to 10X when a person goes beyond -4.00. As such, while myopia never goes away, you can treat myopia through the use of corrective lenses and slow down its progression.
How is Myopia diagnosed?
The first eight years of your child’s life are critical for eye development. Assuming that your child can see relatively well prior to attending elementary school, you may not meet with an optometrist unless your child fails the pediatrician’s basic eye exam (that is usually given with shapes as soon as children are able to identify basic shapes, and then later given as letters). However, just because your doctor says your child’s vision is satisfactory does not mean that all is well.
It’s important to stay aware of your child’s eye health by paying attention to your child’s behavior as well as any feedback from your child’s school. For example, your kid’s teacher may say that your child is having trouble focusing. While this could indicate that your child is just behaving like a child (don’t all 7-year-olds have trouble staying on task), it could also mean something else. As such, watch out for any of these symptoms:
- Rubbing of eyes
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Lack of concentration (which could be mistaken for ADHD)
- Declining test scores
- Constant headaches (headaches shouldn’t be a normal part of any child’s life)
- Haziness or clouding in the pupil
On the other hand, if your family has any history of nearsightedness, you may want to schedule an optometrist appointment a month prior to the first day of school (if possible). An eye exam is not only essential for your child’s vision, eye health and learning ability, but it’s also your first step in treating myopia. If your child’s vision is declining in any way, your optometrist can quickly and easily diagnose the problem and prompt treatment.
How Can You Treat Myopia?
The most obvious way to treat nearsightedness is with corrective lenses. Corrective lenses treat myopia by counteracting the increased curvature of your cornea or the increased length of your eyes. Eyeglasses are a simple and safe way to sharpen vision-related disorders such as nearsightedness. Most times, children start with a pair of glasses before attempting contact lenses.
That said, if your child has high myopia, there are other treatment options available that can treat myopia and slow down its progression. Specifically, your optometrist may suggest treatment that includes contact lenses. Contact lenses can be worn directly on the eyes and are available in a variety of materials and designs, including soft and hard, gas permeable in combination with spherical, toric and multifocal designs.
In particular, to treat myopia, your optometrist may prescribe the following treatment:
- Soft multifocal (bifocal) contact lenses that are able to bend light in a specific way to help relax your child’s focusing system. According to current research, this treatment is 30-50% effective, but can slow down the progression of myopia.
- Low dose Atropine eye drops can also help to relax the focusing system. Again, according to recent studies, their effectiveness is all over the place (30-75% effective), but they may be used in conjunction with contact lens treatment.
- Orthokeratology contact lenses that are only worn at night while your child is sleeping to reshape the cornea. When this treatment is in place, glasses or contacts are usually not needed during the day. They are 30-100% effective, based on most recent studies.
Choosing the Right Pair of Glasses to Treat Myopia
Years ago, anyone who wore glasses was ridiculed, bullied and tormented with names such as “nerd,” “four eyes,” or “Harry Potter.” While you might argue that this banter is a normal part of life and just “kids being kids,” many a child’s self-esteem has suffered as their identify was molded and influenced by their peers during childhood. The pressure of being the “smart kid” just because you wore glasses or thinking that you were “ugly” because you thought that no one would like a kid wearing glasses has sent many adults into therapy.
We hope that attitude has worn away as our society has become more accepting of differences. However, for those of us who were scarred from being teased as kids, we believe it’s important that our children have glasses that not only help them see, but boost their self-esteem. Glasses no longer have to be curse, but can be fashion statement. As such Jonas Paul Eyewear was founded to bring stylish and affordable kids glasses to a market that was lacking both.
Jonas Paul Eyewear was started when Ben and Laura Harrison’s son, Jonas, was born with a rare disorder known as Peter’s Anomaly. After undergoing 21 surgeries (supported with a significant amount of prayer), his vision was restored to a functional level. However, Jonas still required glasses to support his vision and his parents had a difficult time finding glasses he could feel great in. When their search came up short, they launched Jonas Paul Eyewear with a mission is to help kids feel like themselves: comfortable, confident, and stylish, at a fair price! And, in the process, they were able to direct a portion of each sale to help prevent childhood blindness around the world.
While you may buy your child’s first pair of glasses from your optometrist, we find that just about every parent will look for more affordable options moving forward. Because, let’s be honest, even for those of us that fully expected to throw down $300-400 on that first pair, the sticker shock of quality prescription eyewear is still painful. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune to treat myopia. Jonas Paul frames with prescription lenses start at $79 and are available in sizes small (ages 4-7 as seen on the boy with curly hair), large (ages 8-12 as seen on the girl), and teen (as seen on the older boy) sizes.
But what about trying them on? Jonas Paul offers two ways to “try-on” glasses. You can either purchase the $1 Try-On kit which includes 7 of your favorite pairs of frames sent to your door so you can try them on in person, OR you can try on Jonas Paul Eyewear right from your phone with the custom augmented reality try-on function in their app. Available on Apple and Google you can any of their stylish frames, including prescription lenses.
Not only can your child share screenshots of their favorite looks with a single click, they can also share their selfies on social media to get their friends’ opinions (teens especially love this option). The app also has a face-scanning feature that can capture pupil distance and ocular height measurement which ensures that the glasses the customer is ordering fit perfectly without having to go back to your optometrist to have pupillary distance measured. This is especially helpful for some narrow-faced adults that are toying with the idea of sizing down to teen glasses!
We had our big kid (almost a teenager) use our phone to check out this feature before choosing a pair of Miles in Chestnut Turquoise. The Miles features cute rectangle, translucent acetate frames that come in several fun colors every teenage boy will love including blue striped, blue, brown tortoiseshell, clear, brown striped, and blue. If you’re an adult with a smaller face, you likely could also wear these teenage-sized frames.
For his little brother, we chose a pair of Edwards. Similar to Miles, they feature cute square, translucent acetate frames that come in several fun colors every boy will love including blue tortoiseshell, black, brown tortoiseshell, and teal. We got them in blonde tortoise and feel like they perfectly frame out his sweet curls.
Then our girl picked out two pairs of glasses upon realizing that glasses were the fashion accessory she was missing in her life; and since Jonas Paul glasses are so affordable, she can do that! The Ruth in Raspberry features cute round, acetate frames that come in several fun colors every girl will love including brown striped, gray, pink, black, and clear. Obviously, our girl had to have these in what she describes as “hot pink” because pink is a dominant color in her wardrobe.
She then chose a more neutral pair of glasses with the Lauren in grapefruit that she’ll be able to coordinate with just about every other outfit in her closet. Still with a touch of pink, Lauren has more of a “cat eye” rectangular shape that our girl loves.
Beyond Glasses: Other Ways to Treat Myopia and Slow Its Progression
In addition to corrective lenses, there are a few other ways to treat myopia and slow down the progression of the disorder that is particularly effective with children.
Research shows that children who spend at least 90 minutes a day in natural sunlight have slower rates of myopia progression than those who do not. In all likelihood, the reason why we’re seeing such a drastic increase of myopia in kids this year is because so many families spent the past year indoors, virtual learning because of the coronavirus.
Being outside gives kids’ eyes a break by giving them a chance to look at things further away. Furthermore, natural sunlight is just great for our overall health. Although it’s important to note that while the sun has a lot of benefits, the UV light is still not great for your skin or your eyes, so make sure to wear sunscreen and sunglasses!
Jonas Paul Eyewear not only offers corrective lenses but also offers sunglasses for kids. We love the Worth non-prescription sunglasses (that can be made into prescription lenses) frames recommended for ages 8-12. They feature trendy, Wayfarer acetate frames that come in three great colors kids will love including grey, pink, and black. These are particularly useful if your family is heading out to a ballgame as your child will be able to easily see the scoreboard from the stands or just a general fashion statement while outside.
Wear Protective Eyewear
Building on the previous point, make sure that if your child is playing sports, mowing the lawn, painting, or doing any other activity in which their eyes might be exposed to toxic fumes that they are wearing protective eyewear. One of the best ways to treat myopia is to protect your eyes from further damage.
Give Your Eyes a Break
Our modern world is consumed by electronic devices. Whether you’re working, learning, or being entertained, chances are that your time is being spent in front of a device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc). As such, slowing the progression of myopia and protecting your children’s eyes against blue light during screen time is more important than ever.
It’s unrealistic to eliminate all screen time. However, one way to get ahead of myopia is to encourage your child to take regular “eye breaks” whenever they use a screen (or do anything up close for long periods of time). For example, if your child enjoys playing Roblox on their tablet, they should take a break from playing every 20-30 minutes to allow their eyes to relax. This much-needed break can include looking out the window, playing outside, taking a walk, or grabbing a snack.
Jonas Paul Eyewear offers blue light protection glasses for all children, even if they don’t have a prescription. For kids that already require corrective lenses and spend much of their day in front of a screen, you can add blue light for an additional fee to your order. We feel it’s way worth the extra expense.
Choose Healthy Foods
Studies show that eating healthy food such as leafy greens, and other fruits and vegetables is great for your eyes (as well as your general health). If you want to further benefit your child’s vision, you might also add fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (tuna and salmon) to your family’s diet.
Take a Step Back
Kids that may have just gotten their first pair of glasses may take some time to adjust to their new eyes. In particular, it may take some time to break away from bad habits such as holding everything close to their face so they can see what they’re looking at. Holding things close to your face causes unnecessary strain and will actually cause your child to work harder to see. Encourage your child to take a step back (or push their seat back, move the screen or book a little further away, etc.) and see if that makes a difference.
In fact, doctors recommend that you should hold items approximately the same length of your forearm (at a minimum), or the distance between your elbow and knuckles for optimal viewing.
Work in Well-Lit Rooms
Make sure that when your child is doing homework or reading that they have plenty of light, and avoid watching their favorite device in the dark. “Working” in a well-lit room will prevent eye strain and slow the progression of myopia.
Consider Surgical Ways to Treat Myopia
While surgery isn’t usually a consideration for children because in order to be considered for refractive surgery, your nearsighted prescription should be stable; we find that at some point, adults with nearsightedness will consider surgical ways to treat their eye disorder so they can ditch their eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. Refractive surgery does just that.
While there are several types of refractive surgery (LASIK, LASEK AND PRK), typically an Ophthalmologist uses a laser beam to reshape the cornea, which results in a decreased nearsighted prescription. While these procedures are highly successful, you may find that you still need to use your glasses occasionally.
If you’re interested in surgery, be sure to talk with your doctor about the possible side effects, as refractive surgery is not reversible.
Support Vision Around the World #BuySightGiveSight
As if finding a great pair of affordable corrective lenses for your child that will give them confidence and treat myopia isn’t enough, with every pair of glasses that Jonas Paul Eyewear sells, they make a donation to Vitamin Angels to protect the sight of eight children at risk of vitamin A deficiency blindness.
They also partner with CBM, an international Christian development organization preventing blindness and restoring sight in the poorest places of the world by tackling eye diseases, training doctors and health care workers and carrying out sight-restoring surgeries. Working with each of these organizations not only allows them to help kids restore and maintain healthy vision here but around the world; so you can feel even better about your purchase.
If your child has been diagnosed with nearsightedness, there are a number of ways to slow down the progression of their eye disorder and treat myopia; but it starts with a great pair of glasses. Jonas Paul Eyewear has a wide selection of affordable and stylish frames to suit every child and we couldn’t be happier with them!
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