Therefore, more and more children need glasses

Pediatric ophthalmologists report that more and more younger children are myopic. As a result, they need visual aids. Especially at a young age, it is usually the glasses. But why is that and what can help?

“Look, a butterfly over there! Don’t you see him? If an older brother draws the attention of his little sister to such observations, and the object of attention is too far from her field of vision, the little one cannot actually see the butterfly. More and more children are short-sighted from the very small.

“The noblest human sense is to see,” said Albrecht Dürer. If we can no longer see clearly, it limits everyday life.

Myopia – what exactly is it?

Myopia describes the poor vision where you can clearly see objects directly in front of your nose, but the eye tries to focus on objects further away and they remain blurred. The technical term for this is myopia. This happens when the eyeball gets too long. In this case, the focal point of the light is not exactly on the retina, but in front of it. As a result, the background is practically “blurred”.

Children are myopic from an early age

Until a few years ago, myopia usually appeared between the ages of ten and twelve. But now more and more young children are being affected. Today, four-year-olds who need glasses because of their nearsightedness are no longer uncommon. The problem with it is definitely not the visual aid. After all, glasses can also be stylish and so comfortable to wear even for small children that they have no problem getting one. However, early myopia also increases the risk of secondary diseases such as retinal detachment, macular diseases, glaucoma or cataracts.

A few years ago, myopia mainly affected school children.  Today, even daycare children need visual aids earlier and earlier.
A few years ago, myopia mainly affected school children. Today, even daycare children need visual aids earlier and earlier.

Why do children become myopic earlier and earlier?

Studies have shown that poor eyesight, which occurs at an earlier age, is significantly related to early media consumption. If children have (a lot) to do with digital devices such as smartphones, tablets and the like at a very early age, the eyeball is stimulated to grow. This becomes fatal in combination with too little exercise and activity in the fresh air. Optimal development of the eyes requires vital substances which are formed when the body is “exposed” to direct light.

Too long, too close, too early: In many families, children's media use is a health risk.
Too long, too close, too early: In many families, children’s media use is a health risk.
(Image: Prostock Studio/iStock/Getty Images)

Myopia: prevention and treatment

The solution is at hand. If the offspring is already myopic, the first step is to get glasses. There are also eye drops (atropine) which slow down the growth of the eyeball and can thus correct or at least improve ametropia. As a preventive measure, pediatricians recommend that toddlers play outside for an average of two hours a day, as outdoor light inhibits eye growth.

Screen time: how long are children allowed to watch TV

However, the duration of media use is also crucial for eye development. The Federal Office for Health Education has clear recommendations for them. For example, children up to the age of three should not use any screen media at all. Up to the age of 6, a daily duration of 30 minutes should not be exceeded, and from the age of 6-10 the recommendation is no more than one hour a day. And IF you have a screen, keep it at least 30 centimeters away.

Try screen time with
Try to balance screen time with outdoor time. So the eye has the opportunity to rest.

Parenting tips: In many families, everyday life looks very different, and once inside, under the spell of the screen, it is difficult to get the offspring out again. But you might be able to succeed in a deal. The time in front of the television, tablet or smartphone must be captured 1 to 1 in fresh air.

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