myopia treatment

Myopia, or nearsightedness, can cause distant objects to appear blurry and may increase the risk of certain eye diseases later in life. Although it cannot be cured once developed, there are various methods to manage its progression or prevent it from getting worse. These include orthokeratology, multifocal contact lenses, myopia control glasses, or atropine drops.

The effectiveness of these methods depends on the severity of your child’s myopia and their vision requirements. Thus, an optometrist can suggest the most suitable solution during a comprehensive eye exam for children. This blog post will discuss in detail, ways to control Myopia. Let’s get started.

What is Myopia?

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a vision condition where distant objects appear blurry while close-up objects can be seen clearly. It is caused by the eyeball being too long, which causes light to focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it.

Individuals with myopia may be able to read or use smartphones without glasses, but they may have difficulty seeing street signs or movie screens clearly.

This condition often develops in childhood and worsens as a person ages. Approximately 30% of Canadians are affected by myopia, and researchers predict that by 2050, about 50% of the global population will experience nearsightedness.

What is Myopia Control?

Myopia control involves specific techniques aimed at slowing down or halting the progression of myopia, particularly in children and young adults. This is crucial because myopia can significantly impact quality of life and eye health. Moreover, high levels of myopia are associated with an increased risk of developing various eye conditions, including retinal detachment, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss if not managed properly.

Managing myopia and ensuring a clear vision is important for supporting children’s development. Clear eyesight is vital for their growth, learning, and well-being, enabling them to effectively engage with educational materials, participate in sports and social activities, and develop motor skills and coordination. By managing myopia and providing appropriate corrective measures such as glasses or contact lenses, we can help children see clearly and fully participate in various aspects of life.

Methods for Controlling Myopia.

There are various methods available for effectively controlling myopia. The appropriate treatment for your child will depend on factors such as their lifestyle, vision needs, and the severity of their refractive error.

1. Orthokeratology (ortho-k)

Ortho-k is a non-surgical method that reshapes the cornea using specialized contact lenses worn overnight. These lenses temporarily reshape the cornea, reducing the need for eyewear during the day. Research indicates that ortho-k treatment can effectively slow myopia progression in children over 12 years old, reducing it by about half compared to wearing standard glasses or contact lenses.

2. Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal Contact Lenses have different prescriptions in different areas of the lens, allowing wearers to see both near and far objects. This design helps improve vision and can also slow myopia progression. Multifocal contact lenses have shown promising results in slowing down the progress of myopia in children, being as effective as orthokeratology contact lenses and more effective than bifocal glasses.

3. Prescription Glasses

Prescription Glasses are also effective for myopia control. While executive bifocal lenses have been traditionally used, specific lens technologies such as Essilor Stellest, Hoya MiYOSMART, and Zeiss MyoCare lenses are designed to slow myopia in children and may be beneficial for your child’s vision.

4. Atropine Eye Drops

Atropine Eye Drops can be used to control myopia. Atropine, a medication that dilates the pupils, can relax the eye muscles in low doses, reducing the stress applied to the eye’s growth. Studies have shown that 0.1% to 0.5% atropine eye drops can reduce myopia progression by up to 50% with minimal side effects.

Preventing Myopia

It is impossible to prevent myopia, as it is a complex condition that is influenced by various factors, including genetics, environment, and external factors. However, we can take certain measures to partially control the environmental and external factors that contribute to it.

Research has shown that spending time outdoors and being exposed to sunlight can significantly reduce the risk of developing myopia in children. Therefore, it is recommended that children spend at least two hours outside every day.

The digital age has increased the risk of myopia among children, and excessive screen time can lead to uncomfortable conditions such as dry eye or eye strain. To manage a child’s screen time, you can follow a few tips such as… 

  • The elbow rule: which involves keeping screens or books an elbow-to-hand distance away from the eyes. 
  • The 20-20-20 rule: where every 20 minutes, the child should take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away. It is also important to take regular breaks when doing close-up visual tasks like reading or using digital screens. 
  • The 2-hour rule: Leisure screen time should be limited to two hours a day, while work or school may require more screen time.

A healthy diet is essential for overall health and well-being and affects eye health. Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids can benefit eye health. You can include leafy greens, fish, nuts, and seeds in your child’s diet to help support their growing eyes.

Although existing research does not directly link nutrition to an increased risk of myopia, studies have shown a direct correlation between diet and other eye conditions and diseases. Maintaining a healthy diet can reduce the risk of other eye-related complications if a child or young adult develops myopia.

Regular Eye Checkups and Myopia

While we cannot completely prevent myopia, an optometrist can provide recommendations to help slow down or halt its progression. This emphasizes the significance of scheduling regular comprehensive eye exams, as advised by your eye doctor in Toronto and the Canadian Association of Optometrists. Typically, most children are recommended to have an annual exam until the age of 19.  At 360 Eyecare, we provide annual children’s eye exams. 

We invite you to contact us at Rosedale or Beaches to book your child’s next eye exam.

FAQs

At what age should myopia control be considered?

Myopia control is most effective when started early, ideally before age 10. However, it can still be beneficial for older children and young adults.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with myopia control methods?

Ortho-K and multifocal contact lenses are generally safe, but they can increase the risk of eye infections if not used correctly. Atropine eye drops may cause sensitivity to light and near-vision blur, especially at higher doses.

Can myopia control eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses?

While myopia control can slow down the progression of myopia, it is unlikely to eliminate the need for corrective lenses entirely. However, it may reduce the degree of myopia and the associated risks of high myopia, such as retinal detachment and myopic maculopathy.