Managing nearsightedness in children and adults

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As screen time has increased, optometrists say poor eye health has also gone up.

Around 29% of children in Albuquerque, between the ages of six and 17, are myopic – or nearsighted – and getting it checked and treated is important.

10-year-old Austin wore glasses for seven years to be able to see clearly. Now, he’s ditched his glasses and has been wearing contact lenses to treat his myopia.

“Before, I could just see during the day,” Austin said.

“The second day he woke up, he’s like, ‘Mom, I can read without having my glasses on. Mom, I can see your face,’ and just having my kid say, that he can see my face and it’s just a beautiful moment,” said Cruz, Austin’s mom.

Austin isn’t alone. Albuquerque optometrist Tiffany Garcia Martinez says she sees this condition all too often, especially following the pandemic.

“So in the studies, it hasn’t shown that screen time leads to this myopia but, definitely, it plays a big role,” Dr. Garcia Martinez said. “During the pandemic, we saw more kids become myopic than even before but we’ve seen kids become increasingly myopic in the last 30 years.”

Her practice pairs with Treehouse Eyes to create treatment plans to manage myopia in both children and adults.

“If you’re myopic or nearsighted, they are going to have more trouble seeing far away so they are going to be squinting,” Dr. Garcia Martinez said. “The biggest issue is that, when you’re myopic, it actually means that the eye is elongating from front to back.”

While many people deal with myopia, if not cared for, it can lead to more sight-threatening conditions like glaucoma or retinal detachments.

There are three different treatments for myopia, including special eye drops and two different kinds of contact lenses. However, it’s recommended parents take their kids in to get a comprehensive eye exam to catch myopia or any other eye conditions before they get worse.