Why Are My Child’s Eyes Weakening?

Editor: Dr. Russel Lazarus, Published March 1, 2021

Are you concerned your child’s eyes are weakening? Why does this happen?

Children’s eyes can weaken and lenses become stronger, but should I be concerned?

Every year parents buy their children clothing without blinking twice. They just know their children have outgrown their clothing, needing a new pair of pants and certainly new shoes. Well, this also applies to prescription glasses, as while a child grows, so do their eyes.

If you are concerned about your child’s eyes  visit your eye doctor for an eye exam.

The Find an Eye Doctor directory provides a list of eye doctors near you that can conduct eye exams which can help diagnose and treat your child’s myopia.

Changes in children’s eyes

Babies are born with eyes about 16.5 millimeters in length. Eyes stop getting longer at the age of 20 and 21 – getting to be about 24 millimeters long.

The way eyes refract light onto the retina can change as the eye grows, making it necessary for a new prescription.

Should I be worried about myopia?  

If a child’s eyes grow too long, they develop nearsightedness – myopia.

Children whose myopia develops quickly, and/or is moderate to severe, are at a heightened risk of developing retinal diseases and other sight-threatening eye diseases in adulthood.

During a child’s first few years, they are mainly concerned with interacting with their surroundings, requiring them to use their far and intermediate vision.

When a child begins school they begin to focus more intently on interacting with computers and reading books. As a result their eyes may become more myopic (nearsighted) as a result of coping with the amount of close-vision that is required.

Progressive myopia

Progressive myopia may impact school-age children as their myopia can continue to worsen throughout their years in school. As a result, every 6-12 months, their glasses prescriptions can change, often dramatically.

As the eyes continue to grow, the progression in myopia continues to grow as long as well. As the eye grows, their prescription will naturally change as well.

Progressive myopia increases the risk of serious sight-threatening eye diseases later in life.

Myopia management

For children with myopia, they will need prescription glasses. While in some children, myopia progression is gradual, in others it may progress quickly, resulting in higher levels of nearsightedness. Their eyeglass prescriptions need to be updated quickly.

An eye doctor may suggest a treatment option known as Myopia Management. This program includes a number of treatment options to try and slow the progression of your child’s myopia. There are currently three types of treatment that can help control myopia.

Ortho-K/Orthokeratology

A specialized custom-fit contact lens called Ortho-k gently reshape the cornea and decrease the rate of myopia progression.

These contact lenses need to be worn overnight, while a child sleeps. The following morning your child can experience clear vision without any need for eyewear, due to the temporary change in the corneal shape.

Multifocal lenses 

Multifocal soft contact lenses offer clear vision at various focal distances.

Scientific evidence has shown that wearing multifocal lenses limits the progression of myopia compared to single vision glasses or contact lenses.

Atropine drops

Atropine eye drops, most commonly used to dilate your pupils during certain eye exams have been found to slow the progression of myopia.

Recent research has shown that a low-dose (0.01%) of atropine eye drops can effectively impede the progression of myopia in children.

The eye drops are meant to be applied at bedtime – over an extended period of time – to reduce myopia progression.

If you are concerned about your child’s myopia, contact an eye doctor near you to schedule an appointment, they will provide you with information about which myopia management treatment your child will benefit from most.