CHILDREN

Understanding Myopia (short sight)

OK, you’re reading this with your mum/dad because your optician has told you that you have myopia (short sight) and it’s really important for you to understand what it is and to chat it through with your mum/dad.

If your eyeball was round like a football, your eye would see clearly. Like millions of people you have an oval, rugby ball shaped eye (MYOPIA), so the light doesn’t focus, which gives you blurred vision. Mypopia is a disease, but you don’t need to worry about it as it’s very common. ~30% of the people in your school have it (have you noticed how many people wear glasses?). BUT, they are your eyes and your responsibility, so if you want to see well and not have eye disease when you’re older, you need to look after your special type of eye. Your parents can’t force you to look after your eyes. It’s up to you.

Your myopic eye

Your eye is the shape of a rugby ball, not a football, so light doesn’t focus perfectly on the retina (the bit at the back which takes the image to the brain), giving you blurred vision.

Measured in Dioptres (D) you’ll see a minus sign in front of the prescription number to show myopic short sight e.g. -1.50 [long sight has a + in front of the number e.g. +2.75]. Ask your optician to show you this on your prescription as it’s good to understand it.

Tooth decay

QUESTION: Why do you limit sweets and brush your teeth?

You know that if you ate loads of sweets and didn’t brush your teeth they would probably rot and fall out right? And you would have no teeth when you’re older. So even though you want to eat sweets all the time you don’t, because you know too many are bad for you. And you brush your teeth because you know you need to look after them.

Think of your eyes in the same way.

Look after your eyes!

For your type of myopic eye (an eye that has myopia)

Too much of the wrong screen time is bad for your eyes – really bad for it – like sweets are bad for your teeth. Screens silently damage your eye. We’re not saying ‘don’t use screens’. Just like sweets, have them in moderation. Or cast the screen further away from your eye.

More time outdoors is like brushing your teeth. It’s good for your eye. Why? Because your type of eye doesn’t like focusing on near things, on digital images or straining. Looking long distances (sky, horizon) can actually HELP your eye, stop it getting worse.

Demonstration | what’s good/bad for your eye?

How BAD are screens for your myopic eyes?

Stare at that image and see how it feels. It’s not comfortable right? The image is a freeze frame of your mobile screen under a microscope. Your eye captures all that digital fuzz and sends it to your brain to form what you see. Your eye has to work hard to do that, which isn’t good for your type of myopic eye. Casting your mobile onto screens further away, not using your screen close to your face before bed, not using screens in the car and limiting unneccessary screen time will all help your eye.

How GOOD is outdoor time for your myopic eyes?

If you stare into this image at the trees in the distance, you’ll find it comfortable, as your eye relaxes into the distance. This is why outdoor time is good for you. It’s easier on your eye and so good for it. Walk the dog, walk to school, play field sports, go to the park to hang out … you get the idea. All good for your eyes.

This is really really not good for your eyes!

How much outdoor time will help your eyes?

You know that 2 minutes brushing your teeth twice per day is good for your teeth. 4 mins x 7 days = 28 minutes per week. For your eyes it’s slightly more, but then you’ll do a load of this anyway at school, on the way to school etc:

Studies have shown
that 14 hours per week (2 hrs/day) spent outdoors reduces the risk of developing short sight. Basically, it’s good for your type of eye. But it’s down to you to make the effort. If you brush your teeth (hopefully) twice per day to look after your teeth, make the same effort with your eyes because, like your teeth, you need them when you’re older!

Millions of people have myopia, so don’t worry about this. But know that if YOU don’t manage it – not mum and dad telling you to – it’ll affect YOU. Not them.