Risk factors for myopia

There are a number of factors that play a role in myopia. One of them is heredity. Environmental factors also play a role, such as the time your child is active outside. Even if your child is still very young (about 2 years old), it is already wise to let them play outside a lot.

The 20-20-2 rule
Kinderen en myopie

Heredity and predisposition

If you as a parent (or parents) are (strongly) nearsighted yourself, it is particularly advisable to keep a close eye on whether your child also becomes myopic. Your child simply runs a higher risk of becoming nearsighted. Hereditary predisposition is an important risk factor. This is not to say that your child will automatically become nearsighted if you are! But it is an indication that your child is more likely to develop myopia. Your child may already be wearing glasses or contact lenses with a negative power. An important factor is the age at which your child needed the correction. Because the lower that age, the higher the risk of developing progressive myopia.

Environmental factors

It is also important to realise that external factors play a role in the development of myopia. Does your child already spend a lot of time every day on close-up activities like reading a book, smartphone or tablet? Then the risk of myopia increases. The same applies if your child spends a lot of time indoors. Playing outside is good for eye health. It is much brighter outside than inside and children will often ‘look into the distance’ when playing outdoors. This doesn’t mean that children shouldn’t read but they must do so in doses.

The 20-20-2 rule

A very simple recommendation has been devised for the ideal balance for growing children between close-up activities and being active: the 20-20-2 rule. After 20 minutes of close viewing such as reading or looking at a screen, it is good for your child to look into the distance for at least 20 seconds to relax their eyes. We also recommend a break after 20 minutes. It is also important for your child to be active outside when it is light, at least 2 hours a day. The bright outdoor environment has an inhibiting effect on the growth of the eye.

Afbeelding van The 20-20-2 rule

Frequently asked questions

  • Your mum or dad probably sometimes says that you’ve read enough and it’s time to play outside. Or they tell you to stop playing games or put your phone away. They aren’t just nagging you! It is very healthy for your eyes not to read, play games or look at your tablet or phone for too long. Your eyes can become too long through doing close-up activities (like reading, playing games or looking at your phone) for too long. Then they keep growing too much. And then you often have to wear glasses or contact lenses with a negative power. Of course, that’s not a bad thing! But your eyes can continue to grow even with those glasses or contact lenses. Then your distance vision will be more and more blurred. And that can cause eye problems when you’re older. And now here it comes: the longer you play outside every day, the healthier your eyes will be!  It’s much brighter outside than inside and all that light inhibits the growth of your eyes. Another very important thing: there’s nothing wrong with reading, playing games or watching things on your tablet or phone, but you just shouldn’t do this for too long in one go. After 20 minutes, it’s a very good idea to give your eyes a break from close viewing by looking at things that are far away. For example, by looking out of the window for at least 20 seconds. If you spend 2 hours a day being active outdoors, you’re doing well! A mnemonic has been devised for these tips: together they’re called the 20-20-2 rule. After 20 minutes look into the distance for 20 seconds and spend 2 hours a day outside. If you do this, it will be super-healthy for your eyes. Neat, right?

  • You or your child may have received the book My Healthy Body after your visit to Visser Contactlenzen. This play and activity book created by Nancy Tesselaar and Marije van der Veen is packed with information, tips and games to help your children live a healthier life through play. It also encourages children to be active outdoors. That’s why we thought it was appropriate to hand out this book. Now you might find it strange that we’re handing out a book, because wasn’t reading bad for the eyes? The great thing is that My Healthy Body also clearly explains the 20-20-2 rule and makes it clear that there’s nothing wrong with reading if you don’t do it for too long in one go and always relax your eyes by looking into the distance. The book also encourages children to do tasks outside. Haven’t seen the book yet and feeling curious? You can take a look at this link!

  • Although myopia is a growing health problem, myopia treatments are not yet reimbursed by health insurers. We hope that the growing demand for myopia management treatments will soon lead to it being included in the basic package. Visser Contactlenzen advises you to contact your health insurer to see if there may be a reimbursement.

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