Are older siblings destined to wear glasses?
A recent study published by Jama Ophthalmogy suggests firstborn children are more likely to be nearsighted later in life than their younger siblings.
Analyzing data from the British Biobank longitudinal survey of roughly 89,000 adults between 40 and 69 years old, researchers found that the oldest siblings were 10 percent more likely to be nearsighted. They also found that the oldest sibling was 20 percent more likely to be severely nearsighted than adults who were middle or younger siblings in their family.
The data also suggested a correlation between a kids myopia – scientific term for nearsightedness – and education.
“Greater educational exposure in earlier-born children expose them to a more myopiagenic [factors causing myopia] environment,” said Jeremy Guggenheim, a professor of optometry and vision sciences at Cardiff University’s eye Clinic and lead study author, in a statement. “For example, more time doing near work and less time spent outdoors. Therefore, the idea that reduced parental investment in children’s education for offspring of later birth order contributed to the observed birth order versus myopia association.”
Previous research has shown that parents are more likely to invest heavily in the educational success of their first child, which can lead to more years of school. Experts said the reasoning behind this is that when a couple has their first child, the natural instinct is to provide the best for them.
While at school, children have access to books, iPads, toys and chalkboards, all of which strain the eyes. This, as well as genetic factors, can contribute to nearsightedness.
Dr. Aaron Traeger, a pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., encourages parents to take their child to the doctor for their annual physical so that vision problems can be spotted early on.
“In the state of Illinois, a vision screening is required prior to starting kindergarten,” says Dr. Traeger. “However, starting screening earlier has allowed us to catch many children with unrecognized vision issues. This is another reason why your well-child visits are so important.”
- Eyes that are misaligned
- White or grayish-white color in the pupils
- Eyes that flutter quickly, up and down or side to side
- Child rubs eyes or squints often, or complains of eye pain, itchiness, or discomfort
- Rednessin either eye that doesn’t go away in a few days
- Pusor crust in either eye
- Eyes that are always watery
- Drooping eyelid(s)
- Eyes that are always sensitive to light
- Any change in the eyes from how they usually look
If children exhibit any of the above symptoms, visit a pediatrician or ophthalmologist.
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