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The Connection Between Near Work And Myopia

The steady rise of myopia (nearsightedness) in children around the globe may be alarming—but does it really come as a surprise?

Nowadays, children are spending more time engaging in near work through the use of digital devices and computers, which experts believe, is the driving force behind the myopia pandemic.

Fortunately, with myopia management, even a child that spends most of the time focusing on near objects can mitigate their risk of developing future eye problems.

Below, we’ll explain what myopia is, how near work contributes to the onset and progression of myopia and why parents should act now to protect their children’s vision for the future.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia occurs when light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina instead of directly on the retina’s surface. This could be due to the eyeball being too long or the focusing power too high.

Myopia worsens when the eye grows longer, causing the retina to stretch and strain. This makes the eye prone to serious diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy later in life.

Several factors may contribute to myopia’s onset and progression, including genetics, ethnicity, not spending enough time outdoors and near work.

What’s Considered Near Work?

Near work is defined as any activity that requires focusing on objects within arm’s reach from the eyes: 16-20 in./40-50 cm or closer. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Reading, especially with focused concentration
  • Writing
  • Screen use (tablet, computer, smartphone, etc.)
  • Watching TV or video games from a close distance
  • Playing certain musical instruments (for example, looking at piano keys or reading sheet music)

How Does Near Work Contribute to Myopia?

Numerous studies have assessed the relationship between near work and myopia. A systematic review of 27 such studies found a 2% increased chance of developing myopia with every diopter-hour of near work time per week.

A diopter-hour is a term used in research to measure the time spent on near work and how it relates to myopia. For example, one diopter-hour spent reading is given more weight than multiple hours spent staring at a computer screen at an intermediate distance.

Additional research indicates that taking regular breaks while doing near work may have a positive effect on myopia. Children who engaged in continuous and focused reading had higher levels of myopia than groups of children who took frequent breaks, even if they read for the same amount of time overall.

According to several studies, children who play outdoors in the sunshine have a reduced risk of myopia and myopia progression. In fact, researchers are now investigating whether looking at faraway objects like a moving ball plays a role.

That said, it’s important to note that near work isn’t the only myopia risk factor.

How Myopia Management Can Help

This information isn’t meant to scare parents into removing digital devices from the home, but rather to encourage a balanced lifestyle for the whole family.

Myopia management can significantly reduce your child’s risk of developing serious eye disease later in life, so why wait? The earlier they start, the greater their chance of success. At Temecula Valley Optometry Myopia Management Center, we provide the latest in myopia control to offer the best possible outcome for our young patients. Myopia treatments include multifocal contact lenses, orthokeratology (ortho-k) and atropine eye drops.

During your child’s myopia consultation, we’ll ask about your child’s lifestyle to determine which treatment option best suits them. We encourage our patients to be honest when it comes to how much time they spend engaged in near work, as it gives us a better understanding of their visual needs.

Myopia management is suitable for children aged 8-12 with any level of myopia, or those who are at risk of becoming nearsighted (if both parents are shortsighted, for example).

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, contact Temecula Valley Optometry Myopia Management Center today!

Our practice serves patients from Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities.
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Dry Eye And Myopia Management

All parents considering myopia management for their children want to know that the treatments are safe, comfortable and effective. One particular concern is whether myopia treatments could affect their child’s dry eye syndrome.

Can a child with dry eye symptoms still be a candidate for each of the myopia management treatments? Is there a chance the myopia treatments could worsen a child’s dry eye symptoms? Or perhaps improve them?

There is much to consider, and your optometrist will carefully treat each case on an individual basis.

Below, we’ll explain what dry eye syndrome (DES) is and how it may relate to myopia management.

A Brief Overview of Dry Eye Syndrome

DES is a chronic lack of ocular hydration due to insufficient tears or an imbalance in the components that make up the tears (oil, mucus and water).

Certain health conditions, medications, weather conditions, aging, allergies, nutritional deficiencies, and excessive screen time can all contribute to the onset and severity of DES.

Common signs and symptoms of DES include:

  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Stinging or burning eyes
  • Grittiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stringy mucus around the eyes
  • Frequent eye rubbing

DES can be successfully treated in a number of ways, including artificial tears, medicated eye drops, nutritional supplements and by implementing proper eyelid hygiene, like cleaning the eyelids and regions adjacent to the eyes daily. Your eye doctor will prescribe the treatment that targets the underlying cause of your condition.

What Puts Children and Teens at Risk of Developing DES?

Although children have a lower risk of developing DES than adults, they can still suffer from its painful and irritating symptoms. Some experts believe that dry eye syndrome is underdiagnosed in children because they may lack the verbal skills to describe their discomfort.

Risk factors for a child/adolescent developing DES are:

  • Allergies
  • Certain medications (acne medication, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, antihistamines)
  • Certain health conditions (blepharitis, herpes simplex viruses, evaporative eye disease, certain neurological disorders, diabetes, inflammatory conditions)
  • Excessive screen time (people blink less when staring at a screen
  • Nutritional deficiencies

If any of the above factors relate to your child, discuss them with your child’s optometrist before deciding on a particular myopia management treatment.

Myopia Management Options and DES

Multifocal Contact Lenses

These lenses are worn during the day and are usually discarded every night. Children naturally produce more oil in their tears and have a higher tear volume, making contact lenses more comfortable to wear and reducing the risk of DES symptoms.

Some research suggests that children with ocular allergies can actually benefit from wearing contact lenses, as the lens creates a barrier between the eye’s surface and airborne allergens.

However, children with seasonal allergies who regularly take antihistamines may be prone to DES due to the anticholinergic effects of the medicine that inhibit lacrimal gland functioning and reduce the child’s tear volume.

If children experience mild discomfort with daytime lens wear, they may find relief using lubricating eye drops.

Ortho-K Lenses

Ortho-k lenses (also called ‘orthokeratology’), are rigid gas-permeable contact lenses that are worn overnight during sleep. These lenses gently and safely change the shape of the cornea, so children don’t need to wear glasses or contacts during the day. They are removed in the morning and leave the child with crisp and clear vision.

Ortho-k is a fine choice for children who can’t wear daytime lenses due to allergies, DES, or other eye irritations. They are also great for children and teens who participate in sports and other physical activities since no daytime eyewear is required.

Atropine Eye Drops

These medicated eye drops are placed into the eyes once per day and have been shown to effectively slow childhood myopia progression.

Atropine eye drops usually contain preservatives that can cause eye irritation and dryness. However, the low-dose atropine drops prescribed to children have no clinically significant effect on the eyes with regards to DES.

If Your Child Has Myopia, We Can Help!

The bottom line is that even a child with sensitive eyes or DES can still benefit from myopia management treatments. Your optometrist will guide you on what options are the safest, most comfortable and convenient for you and your child.

If your child has myopia or is at risk of developing it, don’t wait until it’s too late. Halt their myopia now, and they’ll thank you later.

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, call Temecula Valley Optometry Myopia Management Center today!

Our practice serves patients from Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities.
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Can Too Much Screen Time Impact Children’s Health and Vision?

The variety of electronic devices and digital media available in today’s day and age is unprecedented. However, it’s not without concern. While these devices have improved our lives in many ways, certain issues can result from overexposure, both in the areas of mental and physical health.

Children are glued to their phones nowadays. All those activities, whether games, videos or reading on their handheld devices may be harming their vision and can be a risk factor in the development and progression of nearsightedness. Furthermore, by spending so much time on their digital devices, children limit physical activity, which can result in a host of developmental problems that may affect the child later in life.

As technology transforms the way we live, those who will be impacted the most are our children. Parents and professionals are concerned with the impact these devices currently have on our children, and they want to find the best ways to manage the time spent using them in order to keep kids healthy and strong.

What are the Health Risks Associated with Too Much Screen Time?

When children spend over 2 hours a day on their digital devices, they may experience headaches, eye strain, reduced attention span, irritability and poor behavior. These symptoms could affect every aspect of the child’s life, including academic performance and social interactions. Moreover, too much exposure to digital devices can also compromise their physical health and can result in vision issues, poor posture and other complications.

Can Too Much Screen Time Lead to Vision Issues?

Child With ComputerThe more time spent staring at screens, the higher the chance of developing vision-related problems. For example, dry eye syndrome is on the rise, which is caused by reduced blinking while gazing at a screen. Myopia (nearsightedness), which is on the rise at an alarming rate, has also been linked to the increased use of electronic devices in children’s lives.

The Link Between Screen Time and Myopia

The prevalence of myopia has grown significantly in the last few decades, a trend that coincides with the increased use of computers and digital devices by children. In Singapore, a staggering 90 % of today’s primary and secondary school are myopic, and in North America and Europe, a stark increase in myopia has also been observed.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome” is a term used to explain the negative impact that prolonged use of the electronic devices can have on our eyes and visual function. The strain on the eyes is especially problematic in children, who can develop difficulties shifting their vision from near to far, and properly integrating their vision and motor skills. The harmful effects of these devices can render handwriting, sports activities, cutting, and any other skill involving the coordination of vision and motor skills all the more challenging. This syndrome can also affect children’s academic performance.

How Blue Light Negatively Impacts Vision

LED screens used for computers and other digital devices emit a broad spectrum of light, of which a small portion is a high-energy visible light called “blue light.” Studies have shown that over time, certain bands of blue light may be harmful to the light-sensitive retina of the eye.

How parents can limit the harm caused by blue light

During childhood, the lens of the eye is exceptionally clear. This allows the greatest amount of blue light to penetrate the retina. Therefore, it is paramount that parents take precautions in limiting the time their children spend on these devices.

However, whenever your child does use the devices, there are ways to protect their eyes from blue light.

  • Purchase glasses with lenses that filter out the amount of blue light that enters the eyes from computers, e-tablets and smartphone screens.
  • Choose anti-reflective coating for the optical lenses, as it blocks blue light.
  • Purchase glasses with photochromic lenses. These are sun-sensitive lenses that block some blue light indoors and automatically block additional blue light from the sun.
  • Make sure you use polaroid sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful blue light emitted by the sun.

Speak with the friendly and professional staff at Temecula Valley Optometry Myopia Management Center in to learn all about the different ways you can block out blue light, to keep your children’s eyes healthy and safe.

Overexposure to Digital Screens Disrupts Sleep

The use of electronic devices prior to going to sleep makes it not only more difficult to fall asleep, but also disrupts sleep during the night, and causes poorer quality sleep. This is because the blue light emitted by the devices tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime.

Blue light plays a critical role in disrupting our circadian rhythm, also known as our sleep/wake cycle, and its disruption can be harmful to our health. This is particularly problematic for children, as they require more sleep than adults; even a half-hour less of sleep can negatively impact their behavior the following day. Less sleep can result in daytime drowsiness, poor academic performance, weight gain, and obesity-related health issues. Moreover, sleep disruption may lead to mental health problems, such as mood disorders, higher levels of melancholy and feelings of loneliness.

Digital Devices and Mental Health Problems in Children

Parents report that the more time their kids spend in front of screens, the more irritated they become. Kids can become overstimulated from screen time without realizing it, which can result in moodiness, increased anxiety, higher levels of irritability, and poor behavior. These symptoms could affect every aspect of the child’s life, including academic performance and social interactions.

Inactivity By Overuse of Digital Devices Leads to Health Problems

Inactivity in children is ever-growing. Screen time is primarily sedentary in nature, and the more time kids spend sitting, the less exercise they do. This can result in weight gain, poor muscle development, and many other physical issues. The lack of physical exercise also negatively affects brain development, which is needed for everything from physical coordination to communication.

Tips to Limit Screen Time in Young Children

child with her motherThe goal is to encourage children to engage in other activities important to their health and development and to establish positive media viewing habits that will keep their visual, mental and physical health in check.

  • Avoid digital media use in infants under 18 to 24 months of age.
  • If you want to introduce digital media to your 18-24-month-old, choose high-quality programming and make sure to use the media together with your child. Solo media use at this age should be avoided.
  • For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour of high-quality programming per day.
  • 20-20-20 rule: make sure your child takes a 20-second break every 20 minutes and views something 20 feet away.
  • Avoid fast-paced programs and any violent content.
  • Make sure to turn off screens (including television) and other devices when not in use.
  • Refrain from using media as the primary method of calming your child. Although there are cases when media is a useful soothing strategy, doing so regularly can lead to problems with setting limits and can hinder a child’s emotional regulation.
  • Make sure that your child doesn’t use his or her digital device one hour before bedtime.

Technology is the present and the future. By following these measures and tips, you’ll go a long way toward keeping your tech-savvy child seeing clearly and feeling healthy for many years to come.

Make sure to schedule an annual eye exams to ensure that your child’s eyes are healthy and seeing well. We will perform special tests and provide suggestions to reduce the risk and symptoms of computer eye strain.

Our practice serves patients from Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities.
Learn More About Myopia Management
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