Myopia, also known as near-sightedness, is an eye condition that distorts or blurs distance objects and is the leading cause of vision impairment worldwide. The refractive error occurs due to eye elongation. This causes the light to refract incorrectly, focusing in front of the retina instead of directly on it. Myopia usually develops in childhood and may continue to worsen until early adulthood. Early detection aids in effective control. Here are ways that O’Rourke Vision Care manages myopia progression in children:
1. Myopia-Control Soft Contact Lenses
These lenses differ from standard contact lenses. Standard lenses only have one treatment zone which allows the light to focus and create a clear image for the wearer. Myopia-control soft contact lenses have two correction zones to correct myopia in all gaze positions. This design has been shown to slow down myopia progression by 59%!
2. Orthokeratology (Ortho-k)
Ortho-K utilizes rigid lenses that gently and non-surgically reshape the outer layer of the cornea while the patient sleeps. A custom-made molding contact lens is inserted before the patient goes to bed, and is removed upon waking. Vision is improved during the day eliminating the need for glasses and daytime contact lenses with proper use. Ortho-k lenses create more than one correction zone allowing them to reduce myopia progression and eye elongation.
3. Low-Dose Atropine Eye Drops
Historically, atropine is used in concentrations of 0.50-1.00% for various ocular conditions including inflammation and amblyopia (lazy eye). It causes the pupils to dilate (or get larger), which makes light seem brighter, and it reduces the eyes’ ability to focus while viewing near objects. However, the concentration used for myopia management is 0.05%. Low concentration atropine has been shown to slow the progression of myopia without dramatically increasing pupil size or decreasing near focus. The exact mechanism of action of atropine for myopia management is unknown at this time.
4. Spending More Time Outdoors
Studies show that reduced outdoor time has led to an increase in childhood myopia. Children are spending more time indoors than before, usually in front of digital screens. Natural sunlight is vital for regulating eye growth and when done properly can protect eye health. We of course never recommend looking directly at the sun for any amount of time. Changing daily habits, including reducing screen time and taking regular breaks, is recommended for healthy eyes. Spending at least 2 hours a day outside is recommended to help reduce the progression of myopia.
5. Myopia-Control Eyeglasses
Advancements in lens designs have led to the development of eyeglasses that can reduce myopia progression and eye elongation. Children would simply wear the glasses which correct for their near-sightedness and help control their myopia at the same time. This is a great option for patients who aren’t able to wear contact lenses or dislike eye drops. Unfortunately, myopia-control glasses are not available yet in the United States.
Myopia cannot be reversed or cured, but we can slow the progression. Myopia control helps protect children’s future eye health. The higher the amount of near-sightedness a patient has, the higher their risk for conditions like retinal detachment, glaucoma, myopic macular degeneration, and cataracts. Yearly comprehensive eye exams can determine if your child has myopia.
Myopia has been shown to run in families. If one parent has myopia there’s a 25% chance the child will be myopic. If both parents have myopia then the risk of the child having myopia jumps to 50%.
For more details about how to manage myopia in children, call O’Rourke Vision Care at our Pleasant Hills office at 412-725-2020 to schedule an appointment today.