A 2012 study published in the journal Optometry and Vision Science shows that the earlier a child gets myopia, the faster it will progress and continue to worsen.
Dr Pang said that this is because myopia tends to stabilise typically after puberty, when eye maturation and growth is complete.
“The younger a child develops myopia, the more years there are for myopia to progress before complete eye maturation, increasing their risk of developing high myopia. Hence, intervention at an early stage is critical,” she stressed.
So, how can parents tell if their child’s myopia is progressing too quickly? Dr Pang said a telling sign is if the condition worsens by 75 to 100 degrees per year, which is considered fast myopia progression.
According to a study published in the journal Optometry and Vision Science in 2019, each diopter (per 100 degrees) increases the child’s risk of developing serious myopia-related complications later in life, if the progression is not controlled at a young age.
Potential sight-threatening eye complications range from retinal tears and retinal detachments to myopic macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts, all of which may lead to blindness, Dr Pang said.
Additionally, a child’s vision issues can also hold back learning. In an article on vision-related learning problems, experts estimate that approximately 80 per cent of what a child learns in school is presented visually.
WAYS TO SLOW MYOPIA PROGRESSION
There are several ways to slow myopia progression. Together with good eye habits, such as taking eye breaks, limiting book and screen time and getting ample outdoor time, Dr Pang said options may include the use of spectacles, day-wear contact lenses and eye drops that target myopia control.
Mr Jeremy Wong, head of education and professional services at Essilor (Asia, Middle East, Russia and Africa), said: “We recommend children to have eye checks every six months to check if their myopia is worsening; Essilor-certified myopia experts can provide advice on the right solution. In addition, parents can assess their child’s risk of developing high myopia with a simple online myopia risk assessment and learn more about the condition.”
KEEPING MYOPIA IN CHECK WITH THE RIGHT LENSES