Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a frequent eye issue that affects a person’s ability to see objects that are further away. While this is always a concern, scientific studies have revealed that myopia that has become more advanced has a higher correlation with certain eye conditions. These include glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, and even blindness.
In fact, Ophthalmologist Dr. Ian Flicroft has stated, “The calculated risks of myopia are comparable to those between hypertension, smoking, and cardiovascular disease.”
Due to the serious nature of nearsightedness, Federal Hill Eye Care offers a range of treatment options to help slow down the progression of myopia in children.
Every parent knows that kids grow fast, and this continues through their teens. For this reason, we often recommend intervening when myopia is first discovered as quickly as possible. The eyes and associated structures are also growing rapidly during this time, so offering ways to help the eye grow properly during this time are critical. Once a patient has reached adulthood, the eyes tend to stop growing or changing as rapidly, and changes in nearsightedness will naturally slow down in progression.
There are a few different options available when attempting to manage myopia, and the options can be changed based on a patient’s needs. There are typically three main avenues of treatment for myopia management: atropine eye drops, orthokeratology (or Ortho-K), and multifocal soft contact lenses.
Each of these approaches has specific advantages depending on a patient’s needs, but the basic idea behind these approaches is that it changes how the light focuses in the back of the eye, thereby slowing down the excessive elongation of the eyes, which in turn, slows down myopia progression.
Atropine eye drops work like the drops you get to dilate your pupils during a routine eye exam, but in myopia management, they are very diluted. The concentration of the atropine drops are as low as .01 or .02%. While atropine works just like regular eye drops you receive during an eye exam, they last significantly longer and do not cause blurriness because they are diluted. They are given at bedtime and allow kids to focus on more important things throughout the day.
A number of scientific studies on atropine eye drops suggest that they slow the progression of myopia by just over 81 percent when compared with no treatment. In fact, one study even found that after the eye drop use was discontinued, patients continued to receive the benefits over children who did not use the eyedrops.
Ortho-K is a special process that uses specialized gas permeable contact lenses, called retainers, that are only worn while your child sleeps. These rigid lenses allow gentle reshaping of the top of the cornea to reduce myopia. When your child wakes up, they take out the lenses, and the eye will maintain the shape throughout the course of the day. This allows children to play sports and be active without having to worry about wearing corrective lenses throughout the day. A number of studies suggest that Ortho-K results in over 50 percent slower myopia progression than patients with no treatment.
Soft multifocal contact lenses offer patients clear vision at varying distances. These lenses utilize different prescription powers at different places in the lens so that people can adjust their sight based on where they are looking. These lenses also show over 50 percent slower progression of myopia than those that did not receive treatment.
If your child has recently been diagnosed with nearsightedness, contact Federal Hill Eye Care today, so that we can begin an intervention plan, and help to protect your child’s sight throughout their life!
What is Myopia?
Myopia is a vision condition where people are able to see close objects clearly, but distant objects are blurred. If the myopia is severe, it will impair near vision as well. In addition to weakening vision, it also changes the physical structure of the eye. These changes increase the risk of future eye diseases.
What is progressive myopia?
Progressive myopia that that continues to worsen year after year. This progression can lead to high myopia, which increases the risk of eye disease.
What causes myopia?
Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long. This can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
How prevalent is myopia?
Globally, research suggests that in the year 2000, 25% of the world's population was myopic. It is predicted that by 2050, 50% of the world's population will be myopic.
Why is treating myopia with conventional glasses and contact lenses not adequate?
Conventional glasses and contact lenses do not slow down the increase of myopia. In fact, they encourage the eye to become more myopic by stimulating the growth of the eye. Moderate to high myopia increase the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachments, and myopic macular degeneration.
How can I tell if my child is myopic?
A comprehensive eye exam is the only sure way of determining whether your child's vision is normal. Some clues to myopia in a child are: squinting to see distant objects, difficulty reading the board at school, poor posture while reading, and lack of interest in playing outdoor games.
Can anything be done to slow down the progression of myopia?
Yes. There are non-surgical techniques that can be used to slow down the progression of myopia. At Federal Hill Eye Care, we are using these techniques to successfully slow down myopia progression in children and teenagers.