Myopia, also referred to as being nearsighted, is a condition where light from objects in the distance focuses in the front of the eye instead of where it’s supposed to focus – the retina.
This causes distance vision to distort and become blurry. Myopia starts in childhood and progressively deteriorates into young adulthood.
In the United States, roughly 40 percent of the population is myopic. Globally, the condition affects over a billion people. That number is expected to increase to nearly 5 billion by 2050, due to factors including age, decreased time outdoors, and more time spent looking at screens.
Corrective lenses such as regular glasses or contact lenses refocus the light to compensate for the myopia. This is what allows someone with myopia to see more clearly. However, Lenses DO NOT address the myopia itself: the elongated eyeball or overly curved front of the eye and the risks associated with it.
What many people don’t know is that myopia is dangerous. Over recent years, the research has conclusively shown that myopia significantly increases the likelihood of a number of serious conditions, which can rob your child of sight as he or she ages. This includes: Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, and Retinal Detachment.
In recent years, a number of advanced methods have been developed to control myopia. Unlike glasses or regular contact lenses, the goal of myopia control is to slow or even halt the progression of myopia entirely. At Eye Care Family Vision Center, our doctors will begin with a full assessment of your child’s myopia. We will then recommend a personalized treatment plan to slow or even stop your child’s myopia from getting worse. This is what will minimize the risks to your child’s long-term vision.
There are three main treatments that are used for effective Myopia Control:
- Orthokeratology (Ortho-k)– ortho-k is a custom-fitted and specially-designed rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses. The ortho-k lenses are to be worn overnight, during which time they gently correct the shape of the cornea. The lenses are then removed in the morning, leaving your child with crisp and clear vision all day long. Studies show that it is an effective way to reduce myopia progression.
- Specialized soft multifocal contact lenses – myopia can be controlled by using soft, multifocal contact lenses, which your child wears during the day. By altering the near, middle, and peripheral focus, in addition to correcting distance vision, the eyes are forced to adjust. This slows down the elongation in the eye over time and is an effective means to control myopia.
- Atropine Therapy – Atropine is a medicated drop, which is used to dilate the eyes. In micro-doses (around 0.01%), atropine has been found to be highly effective at reducing myopia with no discernible side effects. Atropine Therapy is safe, and an ideal choice for children who are too young to begin ortho-k. What’s more, atropine can be effectively combined with other methods of myopia control. Newer research is even indicating success at reducing risk with pre-myopic patients.
Each treatment option has its advantages and disadvantages. After we assess your child’s myopia, we will talk through all the options and develop a treatment plan that works best for your family.