What is myopia control?
Myopia (short-sightedness) is where an individual is not able to see things far away without glasses or contact lenses.
Historically, people with myopia were prescribed single vision spectacle or contact lenses. If their myopia got worse the prescription in these lenses was adjusted to make sure they could see distant objects clearly.
Studies have shown that the worldwide incidence of myopia is increasing.
It is predicted that by the year 2050 half the world’s population will be myopic. Some researchers suggest that changes to how we use our eyes are responsible for this increase in myopia.
Specifically, increased use of smartphones, iPads and computers and a decrease in outdoor time.
Why do we want to prevent children from becoming myopic?Being myopic is not just about the inconvenience of wearing glasses or contacts. People who are myopic have an increased risk of certain eye diseases. These include myopic macular degeneration, glaucoma and retinal detachment. The more severe the myopia is, the higher the risk of eye disease.
What myopia control treatment options are availableMany studies have been conducted to investigate what’s the best way to slow down myopia. Current options include myopia control spectacle lenses, myopia control contact lens options and atropine eye drops.
Our Optometrist can discuss these with you at the time of your consultation and help you select the best option for your child. Myopia control doesn’t mean that we can stop myopia progressing altogether. The aim of myopia control is to slow it down. The result of successful myopia control should be that your child is less shortsighted by the end of their teenage years than if we had not used myopia control measures.
Myopia control contact lens optionsClinical studies have shown that use of myopia control contact lenses is one of the most successful ways to slow myopic progression in children. Soft disposable contact lenses and Orthokeratology contact lenses are the two alternative myopia control solutions.
Soft disposable myopia control contacts are worn during the day. The process involved in fitting myopia control disposable contact lenses is the same as that for a normal soft contact lens. Patients are fitted and taught to insert, remove and care for the contact lenses. They are then reviewed 1-2 weeks later and every 6 months thereafter.
Alternatively, orthokeratology or Ortho-K lenses are prescribed to be worn overnight to gently reshape the corneal surface.
Ortho-K is a non-surgical, reversible procedure that uses custom-made contact lenses to gradually reshape the front surface of the cornea to provide clearer vision. These lenses are worn overnight whilst sleeping. Removal of the lenses in the morning provides clear-vision for the rest of the day. Improvement in vision commences within a day and stabilises after about a week of Ortho-K wear. The changes to the corneal surface aren’t permanent and are reliant on regular overnight wear. The eyes will resume their former state in up to 4 weeks if lens wear is discontinued.
Custom fitting of Ortho-K lenses is complex and requires an initial assessment including topography to determine patient eligibility. Lenses are then fitted with patients being reviewed after overnight wear, after a week of wear and 3-4 weeks later. Once the corneal surface is stabilised visits are scheduled after 3 months and subsequently every 6 months thereafter.
Orthokeratology is ideal for patients with mild to moderate myopia who need visual correction but are unable to wear contact lenses during the day. Examples include playing contact or water sports or working in dusty/dirty environments which inhibit the use of contact lenses or glasses.
Myopia control atropine dropsStudies have found that low concentration atropine eye drops are able to retard the progression of myopia. Atropine is a prescription medication. In this instance, as it is being prescribed in low concentration, it will be made up by a compounding pharmacy. Low dose atropine does not typically have the side effects of pupil dilation and reduced focusing when reading that normal 1% strength atropine has.
Is there anything we can do to prevent our children from becoming myopic?We know that genetics play a part in whether a child will become myopic or not but there are also other things we can do to decrease the risk
- Limit screen use- every 20 minutes look away from the screen for a minute or two. Preferably look out a window or a long way off into the distance
- Spend 80 minutes per day outdoors- not only does looking around outdoors help keep the focusing muscles of the eyes relaxed, animal studies suggest that certain chemicals that help to slow myopia are released from the retina at the back of the eye when in sunlight
- Don’t hold electronic devices too close to the eyes- make a fist, hold it to your nose and place the electronic device at your elbow. This is the optimal viewing distance- any closer and the eyes are working harder than they need to.