Causes of short-sightedness or myopia

Short-sightedness happens when the eyeball is longer than usual from front to back. This interferes with the way light is projected onto the back of the eye and distorts the image that goes from the eye to the brain.

Short-sightedness can run in families.

Spending time outdoors can lower children’s chances of being short-sighted.

Short-sightedness is also called myopia and near-sightedness.

Symptoms of short-sightedness or myopia

If your child is short-sighted, she might say that far-away objects seem blurry, whereas close-up objects are clearer. She might need to squint her eyes to see distant objects clearly.

Short-sightedness typically starts at about eight years of age. It tends to get worse as your child approaches adolescence and heads into young adulthood.

You might notice that your child always sits very close to the television, or holds a book very close to his eyes while reading. If he sits at the back of the class, he might say it’s hard for him to read what’s on the board.

When to see a doctor about short-sightedness or myopia

If you think your child is short-sighted, see your GP or optometrist.

Most states and territories run free vision screening programs through your preschool or local child and family health service. These programs use special tests to check your child for vision problems at 3-4 years, before she starts school. Check with your child and family health nurse or preschool to see what’s offered in your state or territory.

If a screening test picks up a problem with your child’s vision, the people running the screening program will let you know what to do next.

If your child is having learning difficulties, it’s a good idea to have his vision checked by your GP or optometrist.

Treatment for short-sightedness or myopia

Children with short-sightedness always need to wear glasses. Teenagers might prefer to wear contact lenses. An optometrist will prescribe glasses or contact lenses after giving your child a thorough eye test.

Your child will need to have her eyes and her glasses checked every year. This is because vision tends to change as your child grows.

Laser therapy isn’t used on young people as their eyes haven’t yet fully developed.