About short-sightedness or myopia
If you’re short-sighted, distant objects look blurry.
Short-sightedness typically starts during puberty. It tends to get worse as children move into the teenage years and young adulthood.
Short-sightedness can run in families.
Short-sightedness is also called myopia and near-sightedness.
Causes of short-sightedness or myopia
Short-sightedness happens because light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of on the retina. This is usually because the eyeball is longer than usual.
Symptoms of short-sightedness or myopia
If your child is short-sighted, they might say that far-away objects seem blurry, whereas close-up objects are clearer. They might need to squint or partially close their eyes to see distant objects clearly.
You might notice that your child always sits very close to the television, or holds books or devices very close to their eyes while reading. If your child sits at the back of the classroom, they might say it’s hard to read things at the front of the room.
Regular eye examinations: why they’re important
Regular eye examinations are the best way to detect conditions like short-sightedness and other vision problems.
It’s recommended that all children have eye tests:
- before they start preschool, when they’re 3-3½ years old
- in their first year of school.
Some states and territories run free vision screening programs through preschools, schools or child and family health services. Check with your child and family health nurse, preschool or school 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.
Does your child need to see a health professional about short-sightedness?
Yes. If you think your child is short-sighted, take your child to see an eye specialist like an optometrist or ophthalmologist. You’ll need to get a referral from your GP or optometrist to see an ophthalmologist.
If your child is having learning difficulties, it’s also a good idea to have their vision checked by your GP or optometrist.
Treatment for short-sightedness and other vision problems
Children with short-sightedness might need to wear glasses. Teenagers might prefer to wear contact lenses for some activities. An optometrist can prescribe glasses or contact lenses after giving your child a thorough eye test.
Your child will need to have their eyes and glasses checked every year. This is because vision tends to change, and short-sightedness can get worse as your child gets older.
Spending time outdoors each day can reduce the chance of your child’s short-sightedness getting worse.
If your child’s short-sightedness gets worse rapidly, it’s worth asking your eye specialist about interventions that might slow down the process.
Laser therapy isn’t used on young people because their eyes haven’t yet fully developed.
Prevention of short-sightedness or myopia
Spending time outdoors can lower children’s chances of being short-sighted.