What is myopia and what is the risk?
Myopia (nearsightedness) is a common refractive error in which the eyes do not focus light correctly so distance vision is blurred. When the eyeball is too long, light that enters the eye does not focus correctly. As the length of the eye increases as the child grows, there is a higher risk of complications such as a retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataracts, and myopic macular degeneration. Globally, myopia is becoming more common and progressing more rapidly than it used to. A recent publication predicts that by 2050, more than half of the world’s population will have myopia. With myopia control, our goal is to slow down the lengthening of the eye during a child’s growth, and therefore, slow the progression of myopia.
What causes myopia?
Although the exact reason why some children become nearsighted and others do not is not yet fully understood, multiple factors have been linked to the progression of myopia: parents who are myopic, children spending more time on near work (reading, screen time), and spending less time outdoors. Myopia is often discovered in children when they are elementary school age, and worsens throughout the teenage years until early adulthood. Implementing myopia control during the early years can have the biggest impact on slowing down progression.
How can we control myopia?
There are several treatment options available!
Prevention: lifestyle modifications. Studies have shown myopia progression decreases as outdoor time increases. It is recommended to spend at least 90-120 minutes outdoors per day. It is also important to hold reading material and hand held devices at roughly the level of the child’s elbow.
Soft contact lens option: MiSight contact lenses are the first and only FDA approved daily soft contact lenses that are used to slow progression of myopia. These have been shown to slow myopia progression by 59%.
Hard contact lens option: Orthokeratology. Ortho-K is the use of specially designed and fitted rigid gas permeable lenses to temporarily reshape the cornea to improve vision. Typically the lenses are worn at night to reshape the surface while sleeping. Statistically, these lenses slow progression by 45%.
See mykidsvision.org for more information about myopia.
- Holden BA, Ricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, Wong TY, Resnikoff S. Global prevalence of myopia and high myopia and temporal trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology 2016;123:5:1036-1042
- Mutti DO, Mitchell GL, Moeschberger MG, Jones LA, Zadnik K. Parental myopia, near work, school achievement, and children’s refractive error. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2002;43:3633-3640.