information is brought to you as a public service by the International
Myopia Prevention Association, a nonprofit research organization
dedicated to preventing nearsightedness.
Nearsightedness, also known as “myopia,” is the
condition when a person cannot see distant objects clearly unless
glasses are worn. Many children develop myopia during their
school years. Can we prevent a child from becoming nearsighted?
Nearsightedness is caused by focusing on close-up objects
such as a book or a computer for long periods of time. Prolonged
close work is unnatural and stressful. The eyes get stuck in
the close-up focus position and can focus only at shorter and
This happens because the focusing muscles (also called the
“ciliary muscles”) lock up, causing the eyes to
become more elongated and thus more nearsighted. Clear distance
vision is lost forever.
What can be done to prevent nearsightedness in a child?
The problem must be caught as soon as the child experiences
the first difficulty seeing distant objects clearly, such as
the TV or the writing on the board at school. Don’t delay
- or an irreversible overelongation of the eye will occur.
Eye doctors prescribe distance glasses to correct blurred
distance vision. But this makes the problem worse because they
force the focusing muscles to stay locked up which further elongates
the eyes. This results in the need for stronger distance glasses.
The child is thus doomed to a lifetime of reliance on distance
glasses and worsening eyesight.
There is an alternative. If a child uses reading glasses
for prolonged periods of reading and other close work, the focusing
muscles should not lock up and nearsightedness should be prevented.
The child will not be reliant on reading glasses. They are just
a protective tool to be used for periods of close work.
Instead of prescribing distance glasses, the eye doctor should
inform parents about this option of using reading glasses for
reading and prolonged close work. For the child who is on the
verge of becoming nearsighted, “plus three” reading
glasses should usually be prescribed.