What is Myopia?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition of the eye in which near vision is clear, and distance vision is blurry. Myopia typically occurs when the length of the eyeball is stretched longer than normal. Myopia is becoming more widespread and more severe than ever. In the early 1970s, only 25% of Americans were nearsighted. Today, over 40% of Americans are myopic, and that number is increasing at an alarming rate, especially among school-age children.
What Causes Myopia?
It is well known that myopia has a strong link to genetics. Studies show that if one parent is myopic, the chances that a child develops myopia is 1 in 3. If both parents are myopic, the likelihood of the child developing myopia increases to 1 in 2. However, 1 in 4 children can still develop myopia even if neither parent is nearsighted.
Researchers believe that the visual environment is the other strong risk factor for myopia. Children today spend a large amount of time indoors (and less time outdoors), and this trend has been correlated with the rising prevalence of nearsightedness in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. Increased amount of time of near vision activities such as reading and device use, and less exposure to natural sunlight are thought to be influential in myopia development and progression.
Myopia in a child is almost certain to progress, and generally will stabilize in early adulthood. While traditional glasses and contact lenses can allow a nearsighted child to see clearly, they unfortunately do not stop a nearsighted child’s vision from deteriorating.
Why Is Myopia Progression A Concern?
As the eye becomes more myopic, it leads to an increase in the nearsightedness prescription. Some people may think worsening nearsightedness is simply an inconvenience or a nuisance, as there is a need for thicker glasses or stronger contacts and a greater dependency on wearing correction to function for everyday activities. However as myopia progresses, it also becomes a health concern, as people with higher amounts of myopia have an increased risk of developing certain sight threatening eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, retinal holes/tears, and retinal detachments.
What is Myopia Control?
Myopia control, or myopia management, is the practice of implementing treatments to help slow or even stop the progression of myopia. Myopia control treatments have shown tremendous potential in controlling the deterioration of vision and progression of the lengthening of the eye.
Over 75% percent of children with myopia are diagnosed between the ages of 3-12, and the earlier myopia develops, the longer and worse it can progress. Starting myopia management early is important to help keep prescription strength and eye length growth more steady.
FLOE Optometry Irvine offers the most studied and effective myopia control treatments, which include:
Low-Dose Atropine Eye Drops: Atropine is an eye drop medication traditionally used to dilate the pupils. When used in diluted concentrations, Atropine has been shown to be an effective means of slowing down myopia progression.
MiSight Multifocal Contact Lenses: Multifocal contact lenses are specialty soft lenses worn during the daytime, similarly to regular soft contact lenses. These lenses incorporate a very specific optical design which has been shown in many studies to reduce progression of myopia.
Orthokeratology: Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is the science of temporarily changing the shape of the front surface of the eye (cornea) using specially designed retainer contact lenses worn during sleep. The gentle molding effect that occurs overnight allows for optimal focusing of light in the eye. This results in clear vision throughout the day without glasses or contact lenses on, and has been shown in studies to also slow myopia progression significantly.
We truly believe myopia control will have a big impact on your child’s life. If you are interested in how you can slow the worsening of your child’s vision, schedule an appointment with us today!