It’s an insult to call someone myopic; you’re saying that, figuratively, they’re short-sighted and therefore narrow-minded. As a literal condition, however, myopia is affecting more and more people each year. The percentage of Americans who suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness, has jumped from 25 percent to over 40 percent in the past three decades, according to the Chicago Tribune.
There are many different causes of myopia, and while it can be inherited from your parents, it can also be induced by environmental factors. The condition typically develops during childhood, and a common early sign that a child may be myopic is if they have trouble reading the blackboard in school.
Once parents suspect that their child is nearsighted, the condition can’t be diagnosed by school screenings or just reading an eye chart at the pediatrician’s office. An optometrist or an ophthalmologist needs to give them a comprehensive eye exam.
One preventative measure parents can take is sending their children outdoors to play more often. Research suggests that children who spend less time cooped up inside the house are less likely to develop myopia.
“Results need to be replicated,” says Susan Vitale, a research epidemiologist at the National Eye Institute, “but I can think of a lot of good reasons to encourage kids to go outside and play.”
Other Myopia Causes
1. Wearing contact lenses too frequently, especially those that aren’t gas-permeable and don’t let your eyes get any oxygen, can make the cornea swell and aggravate myopia.
2. For people with diabetes, fluctuations in their blood sugar can also lead the cornea to swell leading to temporary myopia. If you are taking one of these types of drugs, consult your doctor about how regularly you should get an eye exam.
3. Many drugs, such as sulfonamides, antihistamines, corticosteroids, and antibiotics can cause myopia.
4. A cataract, which is a cloudiness that affects the lens of your eye can also result or signal the presence of myopia.