WHAT IS MYOPIA?
Myopia is short-sightedness, or near-sightedness, and it almost always starts at a very early age. There are lots of theories about why children become myopic, see causes of myopia. Lifestyle and genetics certainly are the main factors. There is a difference between preventing the ONSET and PROGRESSION of myopia. It is now a commonly accepted fact that a child being out of doors, and being exposed to sunlight has a positive effect in balancing children’s vision. So, it is a common recommendation by doctors practicing preventive eye care to ask parents to take their kids outside while their vision is still in focus for distance viewing.
Quite simply, your child’s eye has grown longer than it should have. So, instead of your child’s eye should be 23mm long, he or she hay have had a growth spurt, and now their eye may be 23.5 or 23.8 mm long. It does not take much eye overgrowth to cause distance vision to become blurred.
If your child has become myopic (complaining of not seeing distance clearly), what happened?
HOW COMMON IS MYOPIA?
It is very common. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that about 30% of Canadians are myopic. Myopia normally starts in the formative years (8 to 15), and almost always gets worse (increasing prescription) until the age of 18 to 20. There seems to be a cycle of about 8 to 10 years before vision stabilizes. Myopia is measured in diopters. The “diopter” is the prescription lens that is required to bring a distance object into focus. Myopia is categorized into low, medium and high, depending on the “diopter” needed. Parents should do everything possible to control their child’s myopia, and there are many reasons to do this.
Here is the most important piece of information. The higher the diopter, the longer the eye has overgrown. An eye that overgrows its proper length, has a huge increase in incidence of eye disease like glaucoma and retinal detachment. If you decide to control your childs’ myopia , you will give them a lifelong eye health benefit. Ultimately, increasing levels of myopia pose a hazard to your child’s eye health for their lifetime. Let us share with you the current technologies used to control myopia:
Controlling myopic progression is serious medicine. It needs to be done in a qualified clinic by a doctor who understands the science and has the technology to manage your child. A program for myopia control needs to be established and individualized for your child.
CURRENT METHOD OF MYOPIA CONTROL
Standard eyeglasses do absolutely nothing to slow down the progression of myopia. However, there are eyeglass lenses, manufactured by companies such as Zeiss, which do indeed slow the progression of myopia. It has been shown that by using this type of “bullseye” design lens, the progression of your child’s myopia can be reduced by up to 74%, depending on the myopia of the child. For higher degrees of myopia, it likely is not the optimal therapy.
An eyedrop that helps vision? Specialists who control myopia in children use this eyedrop every day. Full-strength atropine is used during eye examinations to dilate a patient’s pupil. In very low concentrations, this prescription medication has been clinically proven to reduce the rate of progression in myopia in children. The use of low-dose atropine has been shown to be effective in slowing down the progression in myopia by up to 64%. Remember that your child may need more than just atropine to control their myopia.
As with eyeglasses, standard contact lenses do nothing to control myopia. In fact, ordinary contacts may even make myopia progression worse! However, with the use of peripheral defocus or orthokeratology lenses, the progression of myopia has been proven to slow down over time. For children with higher degrees of myopia, or those who are at a higher risk of progression will do better with contact lens therapy. Remember that these are special, custom lenses that allow you child to see clearly, and also slow down changes in their progression in myopia.