If your kids get glasses or contacts at a young age because they can't see objects in the distance clearly, they're definitely not alone.
Doctors are diagnosing more kids with myopia, also known as nearsightedness.
14-year-old Austin Haak gets regular eye exams after being diagnosed with myopia two years ago. The Rock Valley teen says many of his friends also wear contacts because they can't see objects in the distance clearly.
Ophthalmologist Dr. Geoffrey Tufty says locally, he's noticed more kids with myopia.
"I'm not sure if it's because of the premature children we see. That population of children requires glasses at a younger age and are more myopic," Tufty said.
Tufty also wonders what role the increase in screen time has on a child's vision.
"I'm wondering if it is due to the computer games, the video games, the hand-held smart phones," Tufty said.
Another step you can take to possibly prevent having to wear contacts or glasses is simply eating healthier.
Tufty also points to a recent study that shows children who spend more time outside are less likely to deal with nearsightedness.
"They believe the sunlight inhibits a chemical in the eye that causes the eye to grow," Tufty said.
From playing football to running track, Haak spends plenty of time in the sun. Tufty says genetics can also play a role in a child's vision problems. Whatever the reason behind myopia, Tufty says it's important for kids to get regular eye exams.
"If you're under the age of seven or nine and you don't get that vision rehabbed with glasses or contacts, your vision may not develop properly," Tufty said.
Here are some warning signs that your child might have myopia. He or she may squint to see objects in the distance, or one eye may cross or drift. Also, if you had to wear glasses at a young age, your child is also more at risk.
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