Experts say roughly 15 to 18 million children in US are nearsighted

Experts say roughly 15 to 18 million children in US are nearsighted
Some experts believe virtual learning may be contributing to an increase in myopia among children. (Source: WDAM)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Doctors say myopia’s impact on children has increased over the past one to two years.

Myopia is the clinical term for nearsightedness. People with myopia can see clearly up-close, but cannot see clearly far away.

Although there’s been an increase in cases in children for several years now, we’re told cases have gone up even more recently. Experts say that might be due to virtual learning.

“With virtual learning, they’re using smartphones, tablets, laptops, computers much more, which also increases myopia progression,” said Dr. Megan Sumrall Lott, a functional optometrist, at Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care in Hattiesburg.

Lott says the condition poses a threat of long-term consequences if it’s not caught early.

“Into adulthood, it puts them at a higher risk for things such as retinal detachments, glaucoma and even cataracts,” Lott said.

There are some ways to decrease a child’s chances of developing Myopia, or slowing it down if they already have it.

“Outdoor play, limit screen time, make sure you have good lighting when you’re reading up close,” Lott said.

There’s also another way it can be managed.

“At our office, we utilize the MiSight lenses,” Lott said. “They are a soft contact lens that is a daily disposable contact lens, so children put them in in the morning and then they take away and throw them away at night.”

Lott says the lenses are the first and only FDA-approved lenses to demonstrate an ability to slow down myopia.

“If you can imagine kind of like a bullseye, and so the center part of the lens is prescribed for the distance and then there is another ring right outside that that is more focused for up close, gives a little bit more of a blur and then it goes back to distance and back to blur,” Lott said.

She notes for some, wearing the contact lens is life changing.

“Whenever they put them in for the first time and they’re actually able to see the world and the world opens up, it is such a joyful experience,” Lott said.

You can find out more info by calling Belle Vue Specialty Eye Care at 6014252020 or visit its website.

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