Preventing Short-sightedness / Myopia

As practitioners we are often asked if advancing short-sight is inevitable, and to date, there has been little to offer. This study may result in a step in the right direction. It is open to participants aged 3-10 who are short-sighted, and centres are based in Coleraine or Belfast.

Spaces are limited so don’t delay if you want your child included in the study.

To Learn more visit –

Throughout the world the incidence and prevalence of myopia is increasing. For example, in the early 1970s, only about 25 percent of Americans were short-sighted. But by 2004, myopia prevalence in the United States had grown to nearly 42 percent of the population.

New research, jointly funded by the College of Optometrists and Ulster University, has shown that myopia is more than twice as prevalent among children in the UK now as in the 1960s.

The study’s key findings include:

  • Nearly one in five teenagers in the UK is myopic.
  • Myopia is more than twice as prevalent among UK children now as in the 1960’s (16.4% vs 7.2%).
  • Myopia is most likely to occur between six and 13 years of age.
  • Children with one myopic parent are almost three times more likely to be myopic by age 13 than a child without a myopic parent. This increases to over seven times more likely when both parents are myopic.
  • Children are becoming myopic at a younger age in the UK than in Australia. However, at ages 18-19 years, the prevalence of myopia in Australia and the UK is similar.
  • Myopia, the most common type of refractive error, is a complex trait including both genetic and environmental factors.
  • The prevalence of myopia varies across populations of different regions and ethnicities.
  • While the exact causes of myopia are not understood, it is observed that myopic parents have more myopic children than non-myopic parents. People who spend more time outdoors, even if they have myopic parents and even if they read a lot, are less likely to become myopic.

Why should you be interested in myopia control?

Slowing the progression of myopia may keep your child from developing high levels of short-sightedness that require thick, corrective glasses. Even moderate levels of myopia have been associated with serious eye problems later in life, such as early cataracts, glaucoma, or even a detached retina.

Myopia occurs because the eye grows too long and there is no way to correct this once it has happened. Discovering myopia early and stopping it from getting worse is the goal, and to do that requires eye examinations to start at a young age.

Research is showing that that there are some treatments available now which slow or prevent the progression of myopia, such as Ortho-k, low dose atropinisation and multifocal soft contact lenses, but the actions work best when the child is younger.

Myopic changes are generally permanent; they don’t reverse with treatment. Treatment should therefore be commenced as early as possible to attempt prevention of permanent myopic development and progression.

There are no guarantees that any specific treatment will work for an individual person but the lack of early care will delay any achievable benefit.

Current Advice on Myopia Management – 3 distinct factors

Spend time outdoors each day, preferably ~ 2 hours. It is the brightness of natural sunlight which is beneficial, not the U/V light. Admittedly, this can be difficult in Northern Ireland in winter! Take regular breaks from close work – look away for a minute or so to change focus and/or change your activity every hour or so to alter the demand on your visual system.

Try to limit near based tasks after school to 2 hours each day, and at weekends ensure a balance between inside and outside time, and increase exposure to natural light.

Contact Lenses
Ortho-K and multifocal soft lenses are most effective on average for myopia management, and allow for good vision while in use. The use of daily application of low dose atropine is another myopia management strategy if neither the child nor the parents are happy with contact lens wear.

Binocular Status
Management of Esophoria (eyes turning inwards when tired) and difficulties with accommodation (changing focus from far to near) has been shown to promote additional success with other myopia control measures.

To book an appointment phone , email or book online here.

Ruth Bigger Opticians
40 Clooney Terrace
Londonderry / Derry