What is Myopia?
Myopia, also called nearsightedness or shortsightedness, develops when the eye elongates which causes light to focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it. For those with nearsightedness, distant objects appear blurred while nearby objects remain clear. It is the most common refractive error among children and young adults. Most patients with this condition wear eyeglasses or contacts to correct their vision.
This condition develops during childhood, when eyeballs are experiencing rapid growth, and tends to progress gradually or rapidly through young adulthood.
Myopia isn’t going anywhere on its own
Family eyesight history plays a role in a child’s risk of myopia. If neither parent is myopic, the chance the child will develop myopia is low. But, if one parent is myopic, it increases the child’s chance of developing myopia by 3x – doubling to 6x if both parents are myopic.
However, myopia is more than an inconvenience; 56% of eye care providers agree that myopia, when left untreated, increases the risk of irreversible vision loss later in life. Myopic progression has been linked to sight-threatening conditions later in life such as:
What many people don’t know is that myopia is dangerous. Over recent years, the research has conclusively shown that myopia significantly increases the likelihood of a number of serious conditions which can rob your child of sight as he or she ages. This includes Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, and Retinal Detachment.
Cataracts and Myopia
A child with medium to high myopia is 5 times more likely to develop cataracts in his or her lifetime. Cataracts are a condition where the lens of the eye clouds over and makes vision difficult or even impossible.
Glaucoma and Myopia
Rates of glaucoma increase dramatically in children with myopia. A child with medium-high myopia is 3 times more likely to develop this serious condition, which occurs when fluid build-up puts pressure on the eye causing irreversible damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness.
Even Mild Myopia is dangerous, as new research is showing that medium and high myopia significantly increases the risk of retinal detachment. A child with mild myopia, -4 to -7, is 21 times more likely to develop retinal detachment, while children with high myopia, worse than -7, are 44 times more likely to develop this serious vision condition. Retinal Detachment is a condition where the retina literally detaches from the layers beneath it. This causes lost fields of vision, flashes of light, floaters, and even total loss of your child’s eyesight.
Myopic Macular Degeneration
Myopia occurs because the eye becomes increasingly elongated. When the progression of myopia is extremely high, or, malignant, it can cause the retina to be stretched, causing tears to form in the macula and bleeding in the areas beneath the retina. This can cause irreversible vision loss and blindness. Children with -5 to -7 have a 44 times greater increased risk of developing macular degeneration. The risk rises to 126 times for children with high myopia.
What is Myopia Management?
Myopia management is a series of treatments optometrists use to slow the progression of myopia in children. Our myopia management treatments can induce changes in the structure of the eye by diminishing the stress and fatigue linked to the development and progression of myopia. Several studies have indicated that these treatments successfully slow down the progression of nearsightedness in children and teens.
We currently offer several different customized treatment options to slow the progression of myopia. Our doctors work closely with each family and customize treatment programs for every child based on their unique needs.
The treatments offered include:
- Multifocal soft contact lenses
- MiSight® 1 day soft contact lenses
- Orthokeratology (“ortho-k”) or corneal refractive therapy
- Atropine Drops
Patients are carefully monitored by our doctors and reviewed every 6-12 months to assess the efficacy of the chosen treatment.
Children and Contact Lenses
What do studies show us?
- Contact lenses prevent eye injuries that occur from sports when wearing eyeglasses.
- Since contacts are fitted directly on the eye, they provide better vision during sports and a wider range of viewing than glasses
- Most contacts used for myopia management come with UV protection which protects your child’s eyes from long term damage
- Because the progression of myopia is reduced, the rate of changing prescription is also reduced, leaving your child with better day to day vision in the classroom and better school performance