In the UK, one in three people will become myopic,, at some stage, where objects in the distance appear blurred, also known as short-sighted. Myopia can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, however high levels of myopia can be far more problematic. As the degree of myopia increases the lenses in your glasses get thicker, but much more worryingly, the risk of developing additional eye conditions such as retinal detachments, glaucoma and cataracts, increases. Having family members who are short-sighted is a strong risk factor for developing it yourself.
While we cannot do anything about our genetics there are steps you can take to reduce the chance of becoming short-sighted (myopic).
- Increase the amount of time spent outside each day. Research suggests, at least two hours a day is a good target.
- Take regular breaks from close work like reading or screens. Remember 20-20-20. Look up from the screen every 20 minutes, focusing on something 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. If you can, vary tasks every 30-60 minutes to alter the focusing demands on your vision.
- Limit additional close work (over and above school or work) to two hours per day. This includes reading, writing, drawing and time spent on handheld devices or computer screens.Viewing video games on a TV screen is better than using a tablet or phone at a close distance.
- Hold close tasks at least 30cm away. This is about the distance between the palm of your hand and your elbow.
- Keep your prescription up to date. Research shows that wearing a prescription weaker than you require, can speed up changes in prescription.
- Start early. The earlier in life these steps are taken, the best chance they have of making a difference.
Find out more about myopia management.