Myopia is no longer considered as just simple short-sightedness which can be corrected with standard glasses or contact lenses. It is a condition with very serious potential side effects and increased risk of future eye disease. It is important to take a preventative approach by way of myopia control so we are able to slow down and control the progression of myopia.
What is myopia?
Myopia, or short-sightedness, is a condition of the eye where distant objects appear to be blurry while close objects appear normal. When you have myopia your eye grows longer than normal causing the light rays to focus in front of your retina, which causes the distance to blur. As the eye grows longer or becomes more myopic, there is higher risk of eye disease later in life.
The underlying cause of myopia is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some risk factors include family history, ethnicity, lifestyle, prolonged periods of digital device use, working too close to screens, and greater time spent indoors. It may well be our lifestyle shift to prolonged digital device use that has contributed to the prevalence among Australian 12 year olds doubling in 6 years.
What are the risks of myopia?
Having any amount of myopia increases your child’s risk for eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, retinal detachment, cataracts and glaucoma. Evidence shows that the more myopic your child gets, the more at risk they are of serious eye conditions later in life – therefore early intervention is crucial.
Odds ratios of increased risk of ocular pathology with increasing levels of myopia (Summarised by Flitcroft, 2012)
Why is Myopia a concern in children?
Myopia typically starts in childhood and almost always progresses with age. Myopia progresses quickest in childhood and adolescent years. If Myopia is not controlled in children, it can worsen, which increases the risk of blindness due to myopia-associated eye diseases. The higher the Rx (prescription), the higher the risk for future problems including glaucoma, cataract, macular degeneration, and retinal detachments. That is why it is very important to protect our children’s eyes from getting worse.
Myopia control focuses on slowing down the progression of myopia and reducing the risks associated with it. At Rosser Optometry we have specialised equipment that can measure your child’s eyes axial length (length of eyeball from front to back). This is the most accurate way to measure and monitor myopia progression, as well as gauge myopia control treatment effectiveness.
Orthokeratology is the process of gently reshaping the eye with specially designed rigid gas permeable contact lenses, which are only worn at night while you sleep. You could think of this process as being similar to braces for the eyes. In addition to controlling myopia Ortho-K lenses restore your child’s vision meaning that glasses are not needed during the day. Many clinical studies published over time have demonstrated Ortho-K to be effective in reducing the rate of myopia progression by around 50%
Specialised spectacle lenses
Standard vision correction lenses does little to stop the progression of myopia. However Sophia, our lead optometrist, is accredited to provided Hoya MiYOSMART lenses which are proven to slow myopia progression. These specialised lenses have shown approximately a 60% reduction in the rate of myopia progression over a two year study. This is a relatively recent breakthrough, only becoming available in 2020.
Specialised soft contact lenses
Specific designs of soft contact lenses have demonstrated effectiveness for myopia control. We use a myopia control soft contact lens called the CooperVision MiSight 1Day. It is a ‘dual-focus’ design with special peripheral optics that help to modulate eye growth. These lenses are worn daily, during waking hours, and are a good option for children with milder myopia progression and those not suitable for orthokeratology.
Atropine works in the eye to relax the ciliary muscle that controls lens focusing (accommodation). Simply put one drop into each eye before sleep, daily. The child continues to wear their glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision during their waking hours. For myopia control, a very low-dose concentration of just 0.01% atropine is used. Extensive clinical trials on children have shown little to no side effects or adverse reactions at this dosage. 0.01% atropine is considered safe for long-term use in children for myopia control, and is an approach that has also been advocated by paediatric ophthalmologists.
Environmental and behavioural changes may be beneficial in helping slow myopia progression, in conjunction with the prescribed optical or medical treatments above. Recent research in myopia has proven that children need to spend more than one hour and preferably at least two hours a day outside to help prevent myopia from developing and progressing. Daily ambient light exposure for kids is vital to control eye growth in childhood, with increased exposure resulting in slower axial growth of the eye.
What we do
At Rosser Optometry our myopia control treatment strategies are based on published research data, in line with the most up-to-date clinical approach to controlling myopia progression in children. If you suspect your child has myopia then come in to see us and we can discus which treatment strategies might work best for your child.
Call 5578 4611 or book online to make an appointment.