Myopia (short sightedness) is an eye health issue that every parent should know about.

A free 6 question survey to assess your child's risk of myopia development or worsening.

What is myopia?

Myopia is blurry long-distance vision, often called “short-sighted’’ or “near-sighted”. A person with myopia can see clearly up close – when reading a book or looking at a phone – but words and objects look fuzzy on a blackboard, on television or when driving. But a pair of glasses aren't the whole story.

Why should I be concerned?

The prevalence among Australian 12 year olds has doubled in 6 years. Myopia in kids tends to progress or get worse throughout childhood, and higher levels of myopia are associated with higher eye disease risks in adulthood. If your child already wears glasses, you can do something to stop their vision worsening. If they don't you can assess their risk of developing myopia.

Some quick facts

  • Myopia occurs when the eyeball grows too quickly in childhood, or starts growing again in adulthood

  • Childhood onset myopia is most commonly caused by the eyes growing too quickly, or continuing to grow after age 10-12 when eye growth should normally cease. Genetics, environment and the individual’s characteristics can all contribute to this excess growth

  • In younger children, myopia progresses more quickly because their eyes are growing at a faster rate, leading to higher levels of myopia, stronger glasses and more eye health risks

  • Adult onset myopia usually occurs as an adaptation to fatigued eye focusing muscles due to a significant increase in close work, such as university studies

What causes myopia?

  • Spending more time on close work has been linked to development of myopia, such as reading, playing computer games, drawing or using smart phones and tablets

  • Electronic hand held devices are easy for toddlers to use resulting in increased exposure to close work at a younger age

  • Myopia can be hereditary, and a person’s ethnicity and family background can increase the risk

  • Research suggests a link between Asian ethnicity and faster progression of myopia, with higher worldwide prevalence in this group of people

  • A person with one short-sighted parent has three times the risk of developing myopia – or six times the risk if both parents are short-sighted

  • Some studies show that children are more likely to be short-sighted if their parents finished high school or went to university

  • Under or over-corrected vision (incorrect glasses, or having no glasses when they are needed) has been shown to promote onset and accelerate progression of myopia

How can I prevent or slow myopia?

  • Spending more time on close work has been linked to development of myopia, such as reading, playing computer games, drawing or using smart phones and tablets

  • Electronic hand held devices are easy for toddlers to use resulting in increased exposure to close work at a younger age

  • Myopia can be hereditary, and a person’s ethnicity and family background can increase the risk

  • Research suggests a link between Asian ethnicity and faster progression of myopia, with higher worldwide prevalence in this group of people

  • A person with one short-sighted parent has three times the risk of developing myopia – or six times the risk if both parents are short-sighted

  • Some studies show that children are more likely to be short-sighted if their parents finished high school or went to university

  • Under or over-corrected vision (incorrect glasses, or having no glasses when they are needed) has been shown to promote onset and accelerate progression of myopia

My child is already myopic!

  • Specialty contact lens designs and orthokeratology currently offer the best vision correction options to slow progression of myopia

  • Research has shown that specially designed glasses lenses are effective at slowing progression of myopia, though not to the same degree as contact lenses, and only for particular individuals with eye muscle teaming problems

  • Atropine eye drops have been shown to slow progression of myopia and their use is gaining popularity

Further reading

Visit our My Kid's Vision blog for the latest research on myopia and our tip on managing myopia that we've learned from clinical practice

Myopiaprevention.org is a website dedicated to myopia and has a wealth of information with links to scientific research papers

Visit us on Facebook

The My Kids Vision Facebook page is dedicated to public awareness of childhood myopia, with a firm focus on evidence based information.

About

My Kid’s Vision is the public information website of Myopia Profile. Its aim is to help parents understand myopia and the steps they can take either to prevent their children becoming myopia or to help slow progression if they are already myopic.

Myopia Profile’s purpose is to assist eye care practitioners in their management of myopia. Started in 2015 by optometrists Kate and Paul Gifford from a shared dedication to help children avoid suffering vision loss from myopia in their future, Myopia Profile has grown to become the most trusted global professional information resource on myopia.

Dr Kate Gifford PhD is a prominent optometrist who has been actively managing myopia for over 15 years, and is recognised by her peers as a global expert in myopia and translating research to practice.

Dr Paul Gifford PhD is a contact lens researcher and developer with an adjunct position at the University of New South Wales. His research interests include the design, use of, and education in contact lenses to control progression of myopia.