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My child is near-sighted, what can I do about it?

The warmer weather is upon us and it’s no better time to get in the habit of choosing outdoor play versus staring at our digital screens. There is no denying that our children are becoming more near-sightedness these days compared to decades ago. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported “myopia and high myopia are increasing globally at an alarming rate, with significant increases in the risks of vision impairment from pathologic conditions associated with high myopia, including retinal damage, cataract, and glaucoma.” Following a recent study, the WHO estimated myopia affects 29.8% of the general population and that by the year 2050, more than 60% of the general population will be near-sighted. This statistic is staggering. 

So what is causing this sharp increase in near-sightedness? Part of the reason can be attributed to our genes. Some may say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. However, if it was all based on genetics, we shouldn’t be seeing such a dramatic spike in prevalence. The myopic epidemic has grown far too quickly to be solely based on evolution. In fact, we are learning that our environment plays a large role in determine whether we becoming near-sighted or not. The amount of time we spend indoors and on close work, such as reading, and digital devices seems to be associated with myopia. 

Just last month, the American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (AAOMC) held their annual conference in Orlando, where world-renowned experts, practitioners, academics, and manufacturers discussed the latest developments, innovations and research in corneal reshaping, myopia control and specialty contact lenses. As an AAOMC member and attendee at the conference, Oakville Eye Care’s lead optometrist, Dr. Yeung, is excited to bring back the latest research and technology to Oakville in helping the children in our community fight myopia. “Our goal at Oakville Eye Care is to slow down or halt myopic progression in children and, hopefully one day, successfully prevent the development of myopia.” There are currently a few methods to help slow down near-sightedness, each with varying degrees of success. “Each time we diagnosis a child with myopia, we discuss with parents their options of intervention in hopes that their child will not experience an increase in their near-sightedness and not have to get thicker and thicker eyeglasses year after year. Some of these methods include daytime speciality contact lenses, over-night speciality contact lenses (orthokeratology), and nightly use of prescription (low dose atropine) eye drops.” Dr. Yeung also offers free consultations at her Myopia Control Center to those interested in learning the latest research and deciding which option is best for their myopic child.  

Aside from intervention, one good habit that children can develop that may reduce their likelihood of developing near-sightedness is as simple as playing outside. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors (approximately 3 hours per day) appears to be protective factor for myopia development and disease progression. “We often see children and teens come into our clinic holding a smart phone or tablet, and we often remind them the benefits of putting down their digital devices and going to play outside.” “It’s a good reminder for myself as well,” says Dr. Yeung. “As clinicians and parents, it’s also important to practice what we preach. We hope one day to beat the statistics and help children lead healthier lives with better vision.”

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Raising awareness for ALS

You may already know, we like to give back to our community. Every year we select a charity and will fundraise for it. And this year we were inspired by Erin (our clinic coordinator) and her personal experience with ALS.

Our family watched my dad struggle with ALS for almost 3 years before it took his life at the age of 47. It is awful watching someone you love slowly deteriorate and lose the ability to do things that they once loved. My dad was very active and used to love playing hockey; this was on the first activities that he had to give up. Even simple tasks become impossible for him, such as walking, eating, and even breathing. He was confined to his bed for the last few months of his life. My dad never wanted to see another human being go through what he did, and I am proud that we are able to fundriase for this important cause.”
— Erin

ALS (also know as Lou Gehrig's Disease) is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave  voluntary muscles paralyzed. Every day two to three Canadians die of the disease. If you would like to learn more about ALS and their continued researching efforts, or would like to make a donation, please visit, www.als.ca

We hope you enjoy a few photos from the ALS Walk in Hamilton we participated in, as well as our community BBQ. Thank you to our community helpers from the Oakville Leo Club! And Thank you to our neighbours Panago Pizza, Dairy Queen, and Vegebitez for being food sponsors! We couldn't have done it without you. 

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