Can I predict if a child will become myopic?
I’ve become more interested in myopia in the last 6 months than I have ever been before. This is probably due to a combination of four factors. A visit to colleagues in Singapore, a greater awareness of the number of people with myopia, a greater awareness of the pathological conditions associated with high myopia (above -6.00 DS) and more time to think.
A recent clinical article I read (by a clinical article I mean writing that may contain a piece of information that is useful in clinical practice) contained three pieces of useful information that I can use when I’m working with people who are in danger of becoming myopic.
Firstly, good research has shown that a very good predictor of whether a child will go onto become myopic is their refractive error at the age of 6 years old. If they are less than +0.75 DS at the age of 6 years then there is a high chance that the child will become myopic.
Secondly, it is good to examine children at the age of about 6 because if they have a refractive error of +0.75 DS or less their parents can be informed of the high chance of myopia and they can prepare for it psychologically. Parents are more accepting of glasses for their children if they have had time to prepare for that eventuality. Also, parents can be advised to encourage their children to play outside more.
Thirdly, I was very surprised to read that around 50% of myopic parents who were surveyed did not expect their children to become myopic.
My learnings from reading this article are to encourage all parents to have their children examined at the age of around 6 years old and to advise myopic parents that there is a chance that their children will become myopic. If we don’t give this encouragement and advice who will?