Myopia in teenagers
Myopia is usually caused by excessive growth of the eyeball, which can change the point of focus on the retina and lead to poor distance vision. It typically starts developing in children between the ages of 7 and 13, and continues to worsen throughout their teenage years. As children grow quickly during puberty, this is also a common time for myopia to develop for the first time.
Symptoms of myopia in teenagers
As they are much more aware of their bodies and what is and isn’t normal for them, teenagers are usually able to notice a deterioration in their long-distance vision themselves. It’s common for them to become aware of vision problems at school, where they are often required to look at a board at the front of the classroom. As a parent, the first sign you might have of your teenage child being myopic is them mentioning that they are finding it hard to see the board at school unless they sit at the front of the classroom.
Some of the common symptoms of myopia in teenagers include:
- Complaining of blurry vision
- Holding objects close to their face
- Sitting very close to screens
- Squinting or closing one eye to see better
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Excess blinking
- Watery eyes
- Frequent headaches
If you notice any of these symptoms, or your child tells you that objects in the distance are blurry, book an appointment with an eye care professional. This is especially important if your child intends to start learning to drive.
Managing myopia in teenagers
Your child will need to be prescribed spectacles or contact lenses to improve their distance vision and see clearly. For teenagers, contact lenses can be a great option that they can manage themselves. Research has shown that teens wearing contact lenses have improved confidence and ability to participate in school and sport activities compared to when wearing spectacles.
Standard types of spectacles and contact lenses are only designed to correct the blurred distance vision caused by myopia, but don’t do anything to slow the progression of the condition. However, there are special types of spectacles and contact lenses that are designed to slow the worsening of myopia in children and teens, while also correcting their vision. Atropine eye drops can also be used to slow the progression of myopia, although spectacles or contact lenses are still required for clear vision.
To slow the worsening of myopia, in addition to using the special types of spectacles, contact lenses or atropine eye drops, try to work on reducing the leisure time that your child spends on screens, and encourage them to spend more time outside. This can be a particular challenge for teens, so head to our knowledge centre for advice and support.
Screen time in teenagers: how can we manage it?
Screen use is important for learning but excessive use can cause eye problems. Recommendations are to limit leisure screen time to less than 2 hours per day.
Eye glasses for myopia control in teenagers
Teenagers with myopia should wear their eye glasses (spectacles) full time for best possible vision, and special designs can also slow myopia progression.
Atropine eye drops for myopia control in teenagers
Atropine eye drops can be used to test and treat various eye conditions, and can slow myopia progression in teenagers with evidence up to age 16.