School’s out for summer and the rain has started! What can we do to keep our youngsters occupied and happy? Many of them will happily play outdoors despite the weather. Many more will be content to sit in front of the computer or smart phone playing games or talking to their friends. For parents that can be an easy and peaceful option. By opting for the easy option we may be causing harm to our youngsters. A large body of research has shown conclusively spending several hours per day staring at a computer screen can cause a significant change in the size of the human eye. This is particularly the case in youngsters whose eyes are still growing. If our eyes increase in size they start to become myopic … that’s short sighted to you and me. If a child becomes myopic they will struggle to see clearly in the distance. That causes problems with education if they can’t see the whiteboard in school. It also makes playing sport more difficult. I can speak from bitter experience of that. I am moderately myopic and could never participate in school football or rugby as I could not see the ball clearly. Other research has found children who spend most of their time outdoors are much less likely to become myopic. Why should we worry about myopia? Myopia has been strongly linked to potentially blinding eye disease in old age. This can take the form of retinal detachments, glaucoma, cataract and myopic macular degeneration. Levels of myopia are rapidly increasing. Currently about 40% of youngsters are myopic. Myopia is preventable and controllable. If you are told it is normal for your child’s eyesight to get worse don’t simply accept that. Ask to be referred to an optometrist who specialises in myopia prevention.