Are you noticing significant changes in your child's glasses prescription? If so, you might be wondering when it's time to consider myopia control. Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, can progress rapidly in children, leading to increasingly stronger prescriptions. But at what point should you seek an optometrist's advice regarding myopia control?
In this article, we'll dive into the world of myopia control and explore its benefits and suitability. Understanding what myopia control entails and how it can potentially slow down the progression of nearsightedness can provide valuable insights for making informed decisions about your family's eye health.
Is myopia progression on the rise?
Yes. In today's modern education landscape, the prevalence of myopia is on the rise, and it appears that daily near-point tasks and homework might be playing a significant role.
Studies conducted in the United States paint a concerning picture – among schoolchildren aged 12–17 years, the prevalence of myopia has more than doubled over a span of three decades. In the early 1970s, the myopia rate was reported at 12.0%, but it surged to a staggering 31.2% between 1999 and 2004.
To comprehend this worrying trend, it's essential to understand the mechanics of eyeball growth. The eyeball's development relies on a delicate feedback mechanism. When this mechanism is excessively stimulated, as it may be with prolonged near-point tasks, it can lead to myopic degeneration – particularly in individuals with genetic predisposition. Recognizing this link between daily near-work activities and myopia progression is crucial in addressing this growing concern and taking steps to safeguard the eye health of children worldwide.
What is myopia control?
Myopia control describes methods used to slow the progression of worsening or degenerative myopia in younger patients. At Northlake, we prioritize the eye health of our younger patients and offer effective myopia control methods rooted in scientific research and backed by the expertise of our optometrists.
Early intervention is key, which is why we recommend yearly eye exams for children as young as five years old. During these comprehensive exams, we not only assess your prescription but also closely examine corneal curvatures, axial length, and accommodative responses – crucial indicators of worsening myopia. By identifying any issues at an early stage, we can initiate targeted treatments to achieve better long-term results.
Recent studies have shown that increasing outdoor activities and reducing the duration of near work can help delay the onset of myopia. While these lifestyle changes are beneficial, they are more effective when combined with our tailored myopia control treatments. We believe in a proactive approach to myopia management, and our goal is to help your child maintain clear vision and healthy eyes for years to come.
4 main types of myopia control
There are four main treatments currently being used to control myopia. Each has varying degrees of success, depending on patient criteria.
Since the main patient base of these treatments is usually children, all methods are reversible and non-permanent as children are continuously growing!
1) Atropine eye drops
Atropine eye drops are compounded and diluted prescription eye drops designed to regulate muscarinic receptors of the eye and relax the focus center.
2) Center-distance multifocal contact lenses
Center distance multifocal contacts are specially designed soft contact lenses that have different powers in different zones of the lens. Optically, this provides peripheral blur on growing retinal cells in the back of the eye.
3) Orthokeratology (ortho-k)
Ortho-k lenses are specially designed, FDA-approved rigid contact lenses that are worn at night to prevent symptoms of myopia during the day. They also optically correct vision while inducing precise hyperopic blur on parts of the growing retinal cells.
4) Bifocal or progressive eyeglasses
Can adults benefit from myopia control?
While it is not contraindicated for adults, the aim of this treatment is typically towards the developmental growth phase for younger patients.
Adult patients can still progress, but usually at a much slower rate. Some adult patients actually prefer the treatment of overnight orthokeratology lenses versus the traditional contact lens due to the independence from glasses or contacts during the day! I have some patients that use this customized type of overnight lens wear as an alternative to LASIK.
Final thoughts on myopia control
In the end, myopia control is a hot topic in eye care that is only going to be more defined as research progresses. At Northlake Eye, we utilize soft multifocal contact lenses and ortho-k to best manage myopia.
Interested in learning if your child is a candidate for myopia control?
Schedule an eye exam with one of our doctors of optometry today!