Unlike many vision problems that develop as we age, the symptoms of myopia – commonly known as nearsightedness – can appear in our early years. Elementary school-age children who have difficulty reading a smartboard from the other side of the classroom could be exhibiting signs of nearsightedness, and that’s not an exaggeration.

According to the American Optometric Association, Myopia is being diagnosed at an alarming rate, and, “about three quarters of children with myopia were diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 12.” To combat what’s fast becoming an epidemic, Dr. Vivienne Velasco of iFocus Vision Center and other optometrists are turning to groundbreaking treatments that can help children (and adults) develop better vision.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, occurs when the eyeball is too long, and as a result the person is the inability to see objects clearly from a distance. Up close, a nearsighted person will have little trouble reading a page or screen. But if you put that same object several feet away, the image will become blurry and unreadable.

For those wondering, “How do I know if I’m nearsighted?” the answer is as simple as placing something across the room and trying to see it clearly. Other symptoms of myopia include eyestrain, headaches, and squinting.

Does Too Much Screen Time Make Me Nearsighted?

The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and other screens is partly to blame for the rise in Myopia around the world, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Another, less frequent, cause of Myopia is a curved cornea, which alters the way in which light enters the eye. 

How Do I Prevent Myopia?

“I’ve been recommending parents have their children play outside more,” explains Dr. Velasco. “It has been proven that the more a child is outside, the less likely they are to develop nearsightedness, because they’re not on their devices so much.”

Additionally, Dr. Velasco is a supporter of the “20-20-20” rule, which advocates children and adults put down their devices or look away from their computers every 20 minutes, and look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. These behaviors, when they become habit, can help slow the progression of Myopia.

What Do I Do If I Have Myopia?

As myopia worsens, patients often have to increase their prescriptions from year to year, which can be costly. However, when left untreated, a nearsighted person is left at risk of developing macular degeneration, glaucoma, and even retinal detachment.

As a nearsighted person herself, Dr. Velasco is committed to ensuring patients have access to several treatments, including anti-fatigue or digital relaxing lenses, low-dose atropine therapy – “A diluted form of atropine every night has been proven to slow down Myopia progression,” she says — and specially designed multi-focal soft contact lenses.

How Does Orthokeratology Treat Myopia?

One of the most effective myopia treatments is Orthokeratology, a process that uses special contact lenses to reshape the cornea. Dr. Velasco is certified to treat patients using innovative Paragon Vision Sciences Corneal Reshaping Therapy (CRT) lenses, which slow the progression of myopia while you sleep.

These contact lenses can be an ideal non-surgical solution for nearsighted adults and children. Additionally, they are helpful for patients who dislike wearing glasses, and because CRT lenses are worn at night, they are ideal for allergy sufferers who struggle with contact lenses during the day.

“I treated a patient who dislikes wearing glasses because they hurt her nose and cannot wear contacts during the day due to dry eyes and allergies,” Dr. Velasco says. “Pre-treatment, this patient was 20/400 in her right eye and 20/300 in her left eye.

“Orthokeratology helped enhance her vision in both eyes. She’s now 20/20 without surgical correction.”

Dr. Velasco offers complimentary Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT) evaluations. You can schedule your evaluation online or by calling 702-473-5660.