Research suggests genetic and environmental factors may contribute to the development and progression of myopia in children, a condition more commonly known as "nearsightedness". Numerous studies show that the higher the minus prescription in myopia patients, the greater the increase for severe eye disease as that person ages. Medium and high myopia has been shown to dramatically increase the rates of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and myopic maculopathy.

What are the Risk Factors for Myopia?

Genetic and Family History

The genetic and family history of your condition is one of the biggest risk factors. A child with one or both myopic parents is much more likely to develop myopia. A child who has one myopic parent is 3 times more likely to develop myopia while a child who has both myopic parents is 6 times more likely to develop myopia. In addition to the increased risk of developing myopia, The Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial (COMET) showed that children with parents who are myopic also had more annual progression and axial elongation than children whose parents did not have myopia.


Ethnicity is another factor to consider. A person from an asian ethnic background is more likely to develop myopia and progress at a faster rate. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that myopia was more common in non-Hispanic whites (35.2%) than in non-Hispanic blacks (28.6%) or Mexican-Americans (25.1%). The Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial (COMET) showed that myopia progressed longest for Caucasians (16.32 years of progression), while Asians had the highest amount of myopia at the end of progression (-5.45 D).


Environment is also a risk factor. The amount of time and age a child began to spend greater time on near tasks is also a factor. The more time you spend staring at digital devices, reading up close or over focusing on near tasks outside of school work, the more likely you are to develop myopia. The amount of time you spend outdoors can influence how quickly your eyes develop myopia. Therefore, if you don't do much outdoor activity, i.e. if you spend less than 90 minutes outside per day, you're also more likely to develop myopia. A meta-analysis of research by Sherwin in 2012 showed a 2% reduction in myopia for every hour a child spends outdoors in an average week.

The Age of first diagnosis

As a child gets older, so do their chances of developing myopia. However younger children who have myopia are at a significantly higher risk of developing medium and high myopia. This is because younger children have higher rates of progression and longer time periods for their myopia to progress.

Myopia in children: schedule a myopia management evaluation

Blurred distance vision is a symptom of myopia. When a child complains that things are difficult to see from a distance, such as when watching a movie, taking notes on a whiteboard, or playing sports, parents become aware of a possible condition. Schedule an optometric eye exam for your child if you have a family history of this condition or are just generally concerned to check their vision and ocular health, and to discuss treatment options. If your child has myopia, ensure that your child is in a myopia management program in order to minimize the risks to their vision later in life.

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