Many parents and carers have never heard of myopia, yet one in five children in the UK suffer from the eye condition. 

Myopia, or short-sightedness, is where the length of the eye increases and distant objects appear blurred. Management of the condition includes wearing spectacles and contact lenses to make vision clearer.

Although not a cure, there are also specialised myopia spectacles or contact lenses which have been shown to slow how quickly myopia increases. Left untreated it can affect their child’s quality of life and their ability to perform in school and sports and, although rare, it could increase the risk of having more serious eye diseases such as detached retina and myopic maculopathy later in life.

Wearing spectacles is now fashionable but it can be restrictive for contact sports, and if someone has a high amount of myopia, the spectacles can be thick, heavy or cost money to have the lenses made thinner and lighter.

The number of children with myopia has more than doubled in the last 50 years. It is estimated that almost half of the world will become myopic by 2050. Myopia is also occurring at a younger age, and those who develop myopia between six and 13 years are more likely to have high myopia as an adult.

Children who have one or two parents with myopia can have an increased risk of developing the condition. Reduced time spent outdoors and long periods of screen time may increase the risk of developing myopia or cause it to progress but there needs to be more research into this.

At Glasgow Caledonian we have the only university Myopia Management Clinic in the country in our Vision Centre, in the Department of Vision Sciences.  The department is the largest provider of training for eye-care professions in Scotland. The Vision Centre is open to the public and provides a range of standard and specialist clinics.

Not only do we treat many of Scotland’s young people for myopia in the Vision Centre, we are teaching optometrists how to manage myopia in children in their communities and carrying out research which includes looking into the cost effectiveness of specialised spectacles and contact lenses on myopia patients and exploring natural light therapy as a new management option for myopia in Scottish children.

Most of our young patients are referred to the myopia clinic after parents, carers or opticians have picked up the tell-tale signs of the condition such as blurred vision, sitting too close to the TV screen and screwing up the eyes to see clearly.

We really cannot stress enough to parents and carers how important it is to get their children’s eyes tested regularly. My own daughter, Fia, has myopia and has been attending the clinic for years. She is currently trialling the light therapy treatment as part of our research study into its tolerability and effectiveness in reducing myopia progression.

For more information there’s a good parent-centred website and we are happy to receive enquiries about our work and research via email

Dr Mhairi Day is Senior Lecturer in Vision Science at Glasgow Caledonian University

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