Mayo Clinic Q&A: Understanding nearsightedness in children | TribLIVE.com
Health

Mayo Clinic Q&A: Understanding nearsightedness in children

1978656_web1_gtr-hth-glasses-01-112619
Courtesy of Pixabay
To keep a child’s prescription up to date, it is important to have regular eye exams. This is especially true during the years when eyesight is changing quickly.

Dear Mayo Clinic: My son is nearsighted and has been wearing glasses for three years. He’s now 10 and his prescription has gotten steadily worse. His optometrist says that it’s not uncommon for kids to need a new prescription every six to eight months, but I’m concerned. Should I take my son to an ophthalmologist for a full evaluation?

Answer: Your son’s changing eyesight sounds like it is within the normal range for a child his age. Unless he has other symptoms or other health problems that could affect his eyesight, it is unlikely that he needs a consultation with an ophthalmologist at this time.

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a condition in which you can see objects that are near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry. Nearsightedness happens when the cornea — the clear front surface of your eye — is curved too much or when your eye is longer than normal. That causes light coming into your eye to be focused in front of the retina at the back of your eye instead of directly on the retina. The result is blurry vision.

Many children develop nearsightedness during the early elementary school years, often around ages 7 or 8. The condition usually worsens throughout the teen years as a child grows.

An increase in nearsightedness often is most rapid during early adolescence, around ages 11 to 13. It tends to slow and then stabilize by the late teens or early 20s. It is uncommon for changing eyesight to be a symptom of another underlying medical condition.

Some rare genetic disorders may be associated with nearsightedness. But in almost all cases, those conditions have other signs and symptoms that would accompany the vision changes.

Nearsightedness typically does not lead to other eye conditions or raise a child’s risk for additional eye problems, except in rare situations, such as the development of extreme nearsightedness. Fortunately, nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. To keep a child’s prescription up to date, it is important to have regular eye exams.

This is especially true during the years when eyesight is changing quickly. Nearsightedness also can be treated with laser surgery of the cornea, but that approach generally is not recommended for children. Recent research has suggested that using eyedrops with the medication atropine may slow the progression of nearsightedness.

Although your son’s situation does not sound like it is out of the ordinary, have a detailed conversation with his eye care provider. Talk to your son’s optometrist about your concerns. If you have any questions, ask. If you still are worried or have additional concerns after that conversation, then it may be time to seek a second opinion or consider another provider for your son. An eye care professional trained and experienced in evaluating children — either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist — should be able to provide a thorough eye exam and offer clear information about a child’s eye health.

Categories: News | Health Now
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.