Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition causing blurry distance vision. Myopia is often the result of an eye that has grown too long, causing light to focus in front of the retina. This condition is becoming more common among children. Research is showing that children are developing myopia at earlier ages, which leads to higher levels of myopia as the condition progresses through early adulthood. It is estimated that by the year 2050, roughly half of the world’s population will be affected by this eye condition. Many researchers believe the rise can be attributed to more time spent staring at screens and less time outdoors.
Needing stronger glasses every year isn’t the only problem with progressive myopia- higher levels of myopia are associated with developing eye disease later in life. The risk of developing retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma, and myopic maculopathy all increase as the prescription gets higher. The lower your child’s prescription, the less risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life.
Our office now offers axial length measurement to monitor myopia progression as well as several treatment options to slow the progression of myopia.
Orthokeratology - Ortho-K lenses are rigid gas permeable contact lenses that reshape the cornea to correct for myopia while you sleep. One great benefit of orthokeratology is having clear vision during the day without glasses or contact lenses. Research has shown that ortho k lenses can reduce the progression of myopia by 45-50%.
Specialty Soft Multifocal Contact Lenses - Specially designed multifocal contact lenses worn during the daytime can reduce the progression of myopia by 35-50%
Performance lenses - With the increase in digital device use, our eyes are doing more up-close work than ever before. Phones and tablets are often held closer to the face than books, making our eye’s focusing system have to work even harder. Myopia can develop as a result of the visual system handling all this near-point stress poorly. Lenses specifically designed to reduce near-point stress can help prevent myopia from worsening. We frequently prescribe EyeZen or Sync lenses to help patients perform more efficiently for near tasks.
Vision therapy - If a binocular vision disorder or focusing problem exists and is contributing to myopia development, this can be treated with vision therapy. Training the visual system to handle near work more efficiently can help myopia from progressing.
Atropine Eye Drops - Low-dose atropine eye drops have also been found to be an effective tool to reduce myopia progression. Using this form of treatment has only been approved to use up to 2 years. When possible, we prefer to use contact lens or vision therapy options. However, atropine drops can be a reasonable solution for patients who aren’t contact lens candidates.
Spending more time outdoors - This means seeing things further away and in 3D, while moving through a larger more diverse environment than indoors with a small hand-held device. For indoors, we strongly encourage taking frequent breaks while reading, studying, or using digital devices. Holding devices at the correct distance is also an important habit to help prevent myopia progression.