Although genetics play an important role in the development of myopia or farsightedness in children, the problem appears to be increasing worldwide. Many experts believe that an increase in indoor activities that include staring at a screen to watch television, play video games or use a mobile phone can be attributed to this problem. Myopia should not be dismissed lightly because high myopia is associated with an increased risk of retinal degeneration and detachment, open-angle glaucoma, and early age cataracts, among other problems.
Dr. Anurag Wahi, Senior Consultant, Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, said, “In a country where screens have become the gateway to the world for children, India is witnessing a significant rise in childhood myopia. With increasing reliance on digital devices for education and leisure, the problem of myopia is no longer just a treatment. Not a concern but a public health crisis.
Why is myopia in children?
Myopia, or short-sightedness, is largely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, says Anurag Wahi. He adds, “Children of myopic parents are at higher risk, but lifestyle factors such as too much screen time and insufficient outdoor activities have shown a strong correlation with the increasing prevalence of myopia. Modern lifestyles, characterized by hours spent at home on screens and lack of outdoor activities, are a key culprit.” The shift from natural landscapes to digital screens has not only changed lifestyles but also led to an increase in myopic tendencies among children.”
Early signs of myopia
Often, myopia goes quietly, with subtle symptoms that are easily overlooked. “Children may often squirm, seem overly clumsy, or aversion to participating in outdoor activities because of their blurry distance vision. They may also complain of headaches, rub their eyes excessively, or have difficulty seeing the blackboard at school,” says Dr. Wahi. Symptoms like these are a clarion call for parents to get their child’s eyes checked.”
Risk of childhood myopia
Childhood myopia goes beyond the need for glasses; This has a domino effect on eye health. “Higher levels of myopia significantly increase the risk of serious eye conditions such as retinal detachment that can lead to permanent vision loss. The lower the onset of myopia, the more likely it is to progress to high myopia, which carries a higher risk of these complications,” Dr. Wahi shares. do
The long-term effects of childhood myopia are dire. “In India, with its large population and limited healthcare infrastructure, the consequences of an increase in myopia could be profound. An increase in the prevalence of myopia means that corrective measures and treatment of associated pathologies will require more resources, potentially putting additional pressure on the healthcare system,” warns Dr. Wahi. by doing
Myopia: Does Diet Play a Role?
The correlation between lifestyle choices and myopia has spurred research into possible preventive measures, Dr. Wahi said. Doctors acknowledge that although no direct link has been found between diet and myopia prevention, a nutritious diet supports overall eye health. “On the other hand, outdoor physical activity has been shown to have a protective effect against the onset of myopia. Theories suggest that exposure to natural light may play a role in eye development and health,” said Dr. Wahi.
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Myopia in Children: Dos and Don’ts
Dr. Anurag Wahi shares that as India deals with the growing concern of childhood myopia, it has become important to adopt a proactive approach. He lists the following dos and don’ts when it comes
1. Ensure children attend regular eye exams.
2. Promote a healthy balance between near-vision work and outdoor activities.
3. Teach children to maintain proper distance from screens.
1. Ignore any symptoms that may indicate a vision problem.
2. Allow kids to spend extra time on gadgets without breaks.
3. Neglect the use of prescribed glasses or contact lenses.
Addressing childhood myopia in India
Dr. Wahi said the field of myopia management is evolving with innovative treatments such as special contact lenses designed to reshape the cornea and pharmacological methods such as atropine eye drops, which slow myopia development in children. These medical interventions, combined with increasing public health awareness about the importance of regular eye exams and protective eyewear, are critical to combating the myopia epidemic.
With the increasing incidence of childhood myopia in India, there is a need to address this issue head on. “This requires a concerted effort that includes awareness campaigns, early intervention strategies and lifestyle changes that support eye health. As the nation tackles this silent epidemic, concerted efforts by health care providers, parents, educators and policymakers must ensure the visual well-being of India’s future generations. ,” Dr. Wahi signed off.