Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common form of refractive error that causes objects in the distance to appear blurry or out-of-focus, and can easily be remedied by a pair of glasses or contact lenses. Myopia has been gaining attention amongst eye care providers because the prevalence of nearsightedness is on the rise. Not only are more and more children developing myopia, but the amount of myopia is becoming more severe. While some children are more likely to develop nearsightedness due to a genetic predisposition, research suggests that environmental factors such as prolonged reading and near work also plays a role in the development of myopia.
As the up-close demands for school-age children continues to increase, studies have identified methods of slowing down the progression of myopia. Myopia control refers to a group of treatment options that aim to change the optical system of the eye and slow or even stop the development of nearsightedness. Continue reading to learn more about the main methods of myopia control.
Orthokeratology, or corneal reshaping, is a form of myopia control that uses a gas-permeable lens which is worn overnight. During sleep, the lens gently reshapes the front surface of the eye and changes the eye’s refractive error. When the lenses are removed in the morning, vision is clear without the need for glasses or contact lenses. Beyond being an option for vision correction, orthokeratology has been shown to reduce the amount of myopia progression if it is done consistently and long-term. This method of myopia control is best for young adults with low to moderate amounts of myopia and small amounts of astigmatism.
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses that incorporate a multifocal design are also an effective approach for myopia control. These contact lenses were originally designed to address presbyopia and can be used in place of bifocal spectacles in older adults, but also help relax the focusing system in children. Because multifocal contact lenses have different prescription powers throughout the lens, known as a “dual-focus” design, it changes the way light focuses within the eye. Research has shown that, when worn daily in children with low to moderate amounts of myopia, multifocal contact lenses can also reduce myopia progression.
Atropine Eye Drops and Nearsightedness
The use of low-dose atropine eye drops can also be used in myopia control. This topical medication works to reduce nearsightedness development by temporarily relaxing the focusing system of the eye. However, the drop may have some side effects, such as blurry vision, light sensitivity, and stinging or burning when the drops are instilled. They also still require the use of glasses or contact lenses throughout the day. The long-term effects of atropine for myopia control are still under consideration, so this is a less popular method.
Progressive or Bifocal Lenses for Myopia Control
Similar to multifocal contact lenses, the use of bifocal or no-line bifocal glasses have been evaluated for their value in slowing myopia progression. While these lenses are effective in relaxing the focusing system of the eyes, several studies have suggested that they are not as effective as their contact lens counterpart in slowing or stopping nearsightedness development.
If you are interested in learning more about myopia control, or are wondering if your child is a candidate for one of these methods, make an appointment to talk to your optometrist at Innovative Eye Care.