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Causes of myopia in children: Is yours at risk of short-sightedness?

Young Indian girl getting an eye exam by an eye doctor - India

Parents — especially those who are nearsighted and had to wear glasses throughout childhood — are often concerned about the causes of myopia and if their children also will be being nearsighted in the future.

If you think the same way, don't worry.

Myopia is a common refractive error, it's easily treatable with contact lenses or eyeglasses, and it's not strictly hereditary.

Also, nearsightedness typically does not affect a child's academic performance.

What causes myopia in children?

The exact reason why some children become nearsighted and others do not is not fully understood. It appears heredity is one factor, but it is not the only one.

Are bookworms more likely to be nearsighted than other children? Some researchers and eye doctors think so, but the evidence is not clear-cut.

In other words, if both parents are nearsighted, there is a higher chance that their children will be nearsighted, too. But you can't predict who will become nearsighted by simply looking at their past generations. Many researchers are investigating new lens designs to see if they can develop contact lenses or eyeglasses that can control myopia and halt or slow the progression of nearsightedness in children. (Read more about myopia control.)

Myopia control and playing outside

This might sound simple, but perhaps one of the best things to tell your child to reduce his or her risk of myopia is to "Go outside and play!"

A number of recent studies have found that spending more time outdoors may help prevent or reduce the progression of nearsightedness in children.

Given the research, it's a great idea to encourage your children to spend more time outdoors (and leave the smartphone and other electronic devices inside).

Doing so just might decrease their risk of becoming nearsighted — or slow the progression of their current level of myopia.

Better yet, join them for some quality time outdoors together!

Worried about your child's myopia?

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