Myopia Control – Hamilton & Burlington
What is Myopia?
Nearsightedness or Myopia, as it is sometimes called, is a vision condition in which people can see close objects clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred. Children with myopia can have difficulty seeing their teammates during sporting activities, seeing the whiteboard in school or their T.V screen at home. Common symptoms of myopia are squinting the eyes to see better, frequent headaches over the eyes and general eye strain.
Studies show the number of people with myopia is increasing at a staggering rate. Roughly thirty years ago only 25% of North America was myopic. Today, over 40% percent of North Americans are myopic. Some countries have a higher prevalence of myopia, in parts of Asia up to 80% of people are myopic. Globally, research suggests that by the year 2050, roughly half the people on the planet will be myopic!
What Causes Myopia?
Myopia occurs when the eye grows too long or the cornea (the clear front window of the eye) is too curved. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused correctly and distant objects look blurry.
Myopia typically begins in childhood and in most cases stabilizes in early adulthood. In some cases however, it can continue to progress.
Recent studies show that genetics only accounts for approximately 20% of myopia in children, with the remaining 80% being caused by environmental factors. Research shows that children who spend excessive amounts of time doing near work activities like using electronic devices (game consoles, cell phones and computers), have a higher incidence of myopia. Furthermore, there is direct evidence suggesting that children who spend most of their time indoors and less time outside under natural sunlight, are also more myopic.
What Are The Associated Risks?
When a child becomes progressively more nearsighted, studies show that there is a greater risk of associated eye problems that can occur. Patients with myopia have a greater chance of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and retinal detachment. The risk increases with increasing amounts of nearsightedness. The most important way to reduce the risk of your child developing higher amounts of myopia, and other secondary eye problems, is through early detection. Annual eye health examinations for your child are critical to ensuring any rapid changes in prescription are detected early.
In the past, the only treatment method for a child with progressive myopia was to continue strengthening their glasses year after year. Fortunately, and backed by scientific research, we are now able to slow down and in some case stop, the progression of myopia through myopia control.
What is Myopia Control?
Myopia control is a term that describes slowing down or stopping the rate of myopic progression through the use of specialized contact lenses and eye drops.
Through yearly eye health examinations starting as young as five years old, myopic progression can be detected and treated. The earlier the problem is identified and treatment initiated, the better the long term results are likely to be.
What are the Treatment Options for Myopia?
Corneal reshaping therapy (CRT/Ortho K)
Corneal reshaping therapy(CRT) or ortho K is commonly referred to as “braces for the eye”, is the most effective way to slow down your child’s myopia. CRT is the use of customized oxygen permeable molds that are worn during sleep to temporarily correct nearsightedness so glasses and contact lenses aren’t needed during waking hours.
Studies have proven that custom CRT molds are very effective at slowing down, and in some cases stopping, myopia progression in children. Research has demonstrated that children who underwent several years of corneal reshaping therapy were shown to have less myopia compared with children who wore eyeglasses or standard soft contact lenses. Through careful manipulation in the design of the custom CRT molds, myopic progression can be significantly reduced.
Low Dose Atropine Eye Drops
Regular dose Atropine eye drops have been around for decades, and are used clinically to dilate the pupils and temporarily relax the focusing mechanism of the eye. In cases where CRT therapy for myopia control is not an option, at one drop per day, low dose Atropine has been shown to slow down the progression of myopia as well.
There are some mild side effects that may be associated with low dose Atropine therapy, they include light sensitivity and some blurring with near vision tasks.
Soft Multifocal Contact Lenses
Soft multifocal contact lenses are another method of slowing down your child’s myopia. These lenses are similar to everyday standard soft contact lenses for correcting vision, with a custom prescription added to reduce the progression of myopia. They are worn on a full time basis during waking hours, and though they have been shown to reduce myopic progression, their effect is less than that of the CRT and low dose Atropine methods listed above.
Myopia is not just about blurry distance vision. It is well documented that as myopia increases so does the risk for retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, later in life. In the past whenever a child’s glasses prescription would increase year after year, the only option was strengthening their glasses. Through the benefits of myopia control we now have another option.
By reducing the rate of progression of your child’s myopia, the end result is a lower prescription with less chance of sight threatening eye conditions occurring later in life. We encourage all parents to review the links below and become more familiar with our myopia control program. Call Spectrum Family Eye Care today to book your child’s myopia control consultation.