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  • Writer's pictureWillow Eye Clinic

Is your child at risk of becoming nearsighted?

Updated: Jun 20

We have quite a few tools available now to predict the likelihood of a child becoming nearsighted and when that might happen. One of the most important factors we examine during your child's eye exam is something known as hyperopic reserve. A nearsighted eye is typically longer or bigger than the average eye without nearsightedness. As the child's eyes grow with their body, the prescription tends to shift towards nearsightedness as a result. Ideally, we should have around +0.75 DS of hyperopic reserve at age 6 to prevent the development of nearsightedness in the future.

hyperopic reserved expected at age 6

During the eye exam, we can estimate hyperopic reserves using a few different techniques. One technique involves shining a light into the eyes to measure the current prescription, known as retinoscopy. This technique can be used on young children who are not quite ready for other subjective tests that require a verbal response.

Another relatively new tool we use in myopia prediction is an axial length measurer (e.g., Lenstar, which is currently being used at our office). Axial length is just a fancy term for how long the eyeball is. Remember, typically the longer the eye is, the more nearsighted the eye is. If a child starts off with a longer eye, there is an increased likelihood of becoming nearsighted sooner and with faster progression. This is another objective measurement that can be performed on very young children as long as they are able to fixate straight ahead for a few seconds at a time.

axial length measurement by Lenstar

With these tools, routine eye exams can be very beneficial in catching and, in some cases, preventing the early development of nearsightedness. Have more questions? Our office offers complimentary myopia control consultations for children 19 and under with a valid glasses prescription! Valid glasses prescriptions can be obtained from an eye exam which, for those 19 and under, are covered by OHIP once per year as well. 

Written by: Dr. Sandy Zhu


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