In Australia, one in five school-aged children* experience an eye condition, such as myopia. Myopia, commonly known as short sightedness, can have a significant impact on how a child can learn, act and interact with others at school. We asked Peter Murphy, an optometrist at OPSM, how teachers can manage students with myopia in the classroom.
Healthy Harold is donning specs for the first time to help educate parents and kids on the issue of myopia
What is myopia?
Myopia is an eye condition where light is focused in front of the retina, resulting in blurred vision. This is also known as short-sighted or nearsighted.
Those affected by the condition will often be able to see clearly at short distances, like their school books and pens in front of them, however, will not be able to see distant objects as clearly, like the smart board from their desk.
How does myopia affect children at school?
Myopia can present a number of challenges for children when at school both inside and outside the classroom, contributing to learning disruptions, delays in development, poor performance both academically as well as athletically and behavioural issues.
Students who have myopia, particularly those undiagnosed, can experience confusion and misinterpretation of their skills when comparing to other children in the classroom. This can impact a child’s self-esteem and confidence.
Myopia in children can often go unnoticed, as children may not recognise their eyesight is impaired which can hinder their academic progress long term.
For students who are diagnosed with myopia, it is important teachers consider and effectively manage their eye condition to ensure the challenges and consequences mentioned above are mitigated.
What should I look out for in my students?
Is your student moving closer to the board? Avoiding sport or recreational activities that require distance vision? Complaining of sore or tired eyes? Headaches? Squinting? Reduced focus and concentration? Avoiding reading? Shorter attention span?
These are common symptoms of a child with myopia. However, speak to an optometrist for more information.*
What should I do if I think a student in my classroom has myopia?
Myopia is progressive and typically worsens between the ages of 6-17 years. If caught early, the condition can be easily corrected. However, if not, it can lead to further, more serious eye damage in later life.
As such, it is super important for teachers, parents and their children to be taking preventative measures at an early age. If you think a child in your classroom has myopia or another eye condition, raise your concern with their parents and suggest booking an eye check with a local OPSM optometrist.