Eye conditions & symptoms 4 min read

What are the Causes of Myopia?

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Have you ever had trouble reading road signs or recognising people at a distance? This could suggest that you have myopia, but it is very easy to manage. Struggling to see distant objects clearly is a common problem with those aged under 40; in fact, around 1 in 4 people across Europe have myopia.

You may know myopia as shortsightedness

You may be surprised to know that myopia, or short-sightedness, usually emerges during childhood and generally stabilises by adulthood.

Myopia is becoming more widespread in children and teenagers across the world, with many suggesting that it could be linked to both genetics and environmental factors. It is important that you are aware of the causes, as it may help you to notice whether your child is at risk of developing the condition.

As a parent or young adult, you might be able to notice behavioural changes in younger siblings or children that might indicate they are struggling with their vision. Luckily, managing short-sightedness is simple through corrective lenses.

Currently, the exact cause of myopia is not known. However, there are a number of factors that may increase the risk of developing myopia, and it can be helpful to be aware of what these factors are.

Does genetics have anything to do with the causes of myopia?

Myopia can be caused by a misshapen lens, cornea or eyeball, which affects how light is refracted and how it reaches the retina. While this doesn’t pose a threat to your health, it can make it difficult to see objects in the distance.

If you or your partner have myopia, your children could have a higher risk of being short-sighted. Research has suggested that the cause of myopia may be hereditary. In some cases, short-sightedness among other genetic markers can be passed from one generation to another. So far around 40 genes have been identified that are linked to short-sightedness.

So, if you or your other half need to wear glasses for myopia, consider keeping a lookout for any changes in your child’s behaviour or vision. Signs can include squinting, sitting too close to the television or complaining of headaches. Identifying myopia early may help to slow down the progression of being short-sighted, so if you think you’re noticing changes in your child’s vision, make an appointment with your optometrist.

Can lifestyle choices affect your chance of becoming short-sighted?

With so much information in the news regarding what is good or bad for our health, it feels almost impossible to find the truth. However, there is some research that shows some lifestyle choices and environmental factors can be a cause of myopia.

Spending time outdoors

There has been discussion regarding how spending little time outdoors may contribute to your risk of developing myopia. Do you remember playing outside a lot as a child? Does your child do the same, or do they prefer to sit indoors and play video games? Spending time outside as a child could reduce your chances of myopia, and could even slow down the progression of existing short-sightedness. However, it is also important to wear adequate eye protection from the sun!

Screen usage

When it comes to children, spending a lot of time focusing on close-up objects may increase your risk of short-sightedness. Does your child regularly use an iPad to play on? It is important to encourage your children to do things in moderation. For instance, encourage your children to read or play on the computer, but also ensure they spend time outside and away from close-up activities.

Diagnosing myopia

It is very straightforward to diagnose myopia, and the modern solutions now available make it easier than ever before to manage short-sightedness. Your optometrist can recognise myopia through a simple eye examination.

At Essilor, we understand that modern lifestyles are demanding and fast-paced. We also know that children’s glasses need to be able to handle a bit of rough and tumble! Our lens solutions are designed with this in mind, meeting your family’s eye care needs through enhanced vision performance and optimum eye health protection.