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How to Prevent High Myopia in Children: A Comprehensive Guide

Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, is a vision condition that affects millions of children worldwide. While myopia itself is relatively common, high myopia (or severe nearsightedness) can lead to a range of eye health issues and increased risk of vision impairment in adulthood. The good news is that there are proactive measures parents and caregivers can take to help prevent high myopia in children. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the factors contributing to myopia progression, the risks associated with high myopia, and a variety of strategies and interventions to reduce its development in children.

Understanding Myopia in Children

Myopia is a refractive error that causes distant objects to appear blurry while close-up objects are seen clearly. It occurs when the eye grows too long or the cornea becomes too curved, causing light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. Myopia typically emerges during childhood and tends to progress throughout the adolescent years, often stabilizing by early adulthood.

Prevalence of Childhood Myopia

Recent studies indicate a troubling increase in the prevalence of childhood myopia, particularly in urban areas and regions with a heavy reliance on digital devices. In some countries, more than 80% of young adults are myopic, a drastic rise compared to previous generations. The rapid surge in myopia cases has raised concerns about the potential consequences for children's eye health and vision.

Factors Contributing to Myopia Development

Several factors contribute to the development and progression of myopia in children:
  1. Genetics: Myopia often runs in families, suggesting a genetic component that predisposes some children to develop myopia.
  2. Environmental Factors: Prolonged near work, such as reading, using digital screens, and other close-up activities, can increase the risk of myopia
  3. Lack of Outdoor Time: Insufficient outdoor activities and exposure to natural light during childhood have been associated with a higher likelihood of myopia development.
  4. Educational Pressure: High academic demands and long hours of study can lead to increased near work, which may contribute to myopia progression.
  5. Urbanization: Urban environments with limited outdoor spaces can restrict children's opportunities for outdoor play and sunlight exposure.
  6. Lack of Awareness: Many parents and children may not be aware of the importance of myopia control measures.

Consequences of Untreated Myopia

Childhood myopia can have far-reaching consequences if left unmanaged:
  1. Rapid Progression: Myopia tends to worsen during childhood and adolescence, leading to increasingly stronger prescriptions.
  2. High Myopia: Severe myopia (high myopia) is associated with an elevated risk of eye complications, including retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataracts.
  3. Reduced Quality of Life: Uncorrected myopia can hinder a child's ability to participate in sports and outdoor activities, affecting their overall quality of life.
  4. Academic Impact: Myopia can affect a child's performance in school if they struggle to see the board or read textbooks.
  5. Economic Burden: The financial cost of managing high myopia and its complications can be substantial over a lifetime.

Strategies to Prevent High Myopia in Children

Given the potential long-term consequences of myopia, proactive measures for myopia control in children are crucial. Several strategies have shown promise in slowing the progression of myopia and reducing its impact:
  1. Orthokeratology (Ortho-K): Ortho-K involves the use of specially designed contact lenses that reshape the cornea while the child sleeps. These lenses are removed in the morning, providing clear vision throughout the day. Ortho-K has been effective in slowing myopia progression.
  2. Multifocal Contact Lenses: Multifocal contact lenses, which have different prescriptions for distance and near vision, have demonstrated efficacy in myopia control. These lenses can reduce the rate of myopia progression.
  3. Atropine Eye Drops: Low-dose atropine eye drops have been used to slow myopia progression by relaxing the eye's focusing mechanism. This treatment is most effective when combined with other strategies.
  4. Increased Outdoor Time: Encouraging children to spend more time outdoors, particularly in natural sunlight, can help reduce the risk of myopia development and progression.
  5. Reduced Near Work: Implementing the 20-20-20 rule (taking a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes) during close-up activities can reduce eye strain and slow myopia progression.
  6. Myopia Management Programs: Some eye care professionals offer myopia management programs that combine various strategies to address myopia progression comprehensively.
  7. Regular Eye Examinations: Annual eye exams are essential for monitoring a child's myopia progression and adjusting treatment as needed.

Parental Involvement and Education

Parents play a pivotal role in myopia control for children. Here are some key steps parents can take to support their child's eye health:
  1. Awareness: Stay informed about the risks and consequences of myopia and discuss them with your child's eye care provider.
  2. Outdoor Play: Encourage your child to spend more time outdoors, engage in physical activities, and enjoy natural sunlight.
  3. Screen Time Management: Set limits on screen time and encourage balanced use of digital devices with breaks for outdoor activities.
  4. Regular Eye Exams: Schedule annual eye examinations for your child, even if they do not exhibit myopia symptoms.
  5. Compliance: Ensure your child follows their prescribed myopia control treatment plan, whether it includes ortho-k lenses, atropine eye drops, or other methods.
  6. Environment: Create a conducive environment for learning and play, including proper lighting and ergonomic workspaces.


Preventing high myopia in children is essential for safeguarding their eye health and reducing the risk of vision complications in adulthood. While myopia is becoming increasingly prevalent, parents and caregivers can take proactive steps to manage and control its progression. By educating themselves about myopia, adopting myopia control strategies, and working closely with eye care professionals, parents can provide their children with the best opportunities for clear vision and a lifetime of healthy eyes. Together, we can make significant strides in reducing the impact of myopia on future generations.