What Causes Myopia? Who are at risk?

  • Family history. Myopia tends to run in families. If one parent is already wearing glasses, the child’s risk for developing myopia is increased. This risk is even higher if both parents are myopic. Even though there is a large genetic component in myopia development, research shows that there is no genetic link between high and low myopia. This is because ENVIRONMENTAL factors, such as near work, plays a larger role in myopia.
  • Prolonged near work. People who spend a lot of time reading or using computers/devices may be at increased risk of myopia. Itmost frequently occurs and develops during school-going age and its prevalence is particularly high in secondary/tertiary school students. Children needs to take a break at regular intervals to avoid the detrimental effects of eyestrain that is induced by excessive efforts in focusing up-close (technically called ‘accommodation’). It is believed that this leads to a build-up in pressure in the eye which consequently results in the lengthening of the eyeball (technically called the ‘axial length’).
  • Other environmental conditions. Children who spend all their time indoors are at risk. Research suggests that a lack of outdoor activities increases the risk for developing myopia. It will be beneficial for children to spend 2 to 3 hours outdoors each day. This is particularly important for young children, because those who develop myopia early are most likely to progress to more severe cases. Parents should put in measures to protect their children’s eyes from harmful UV rays if they choose to spend more time outdoors.

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