What is Myopia?
Myopia occurs when the eye grows too long to focus light perfectly on the retina. Instead light is focused in front of the retina causing distance vision to be blurred.
Approximately 1/3 of people in the US have myopia, and this number continues to increase every year. Once a child develops myopia the average rate of progression is 0.50D/year. That means if a 10 year old is a -2.00 they will be -6.00 by age 18.
Why is it important to reduce the amount of myopia?
Higher levels of myopia does not only mean thicker glasses and more inconvenience.
Higher levels of myopia are associated with increased risk of:
- Cataracts: This is a normal change that occurs in the eye with age, however cataracts develop at a younger age in myopic people.
- Glaucoma: Risk of glaucoma increases 2-3x in myopic people.
- Retinal Detachment: The higher the myopia the greater the risk. Risk is 4x higher in mild myopia (-0.25->-3.00), and 10x higher in Moderate-high myopia (>-3.00).
- Myopia Maculopathy: A slowly progressive, sight threatening condition affecting the central vision. Risk increases 60x in myopia higher than -5.00. The only disease among the top 5 causes of blindness that remains entirely untreatable.
What can you do?
- Behavioral Modifications
- Maintain a proper working distance. When reading or using digital devices make sure to hold the material approximately 16 inches away .
- Get OUTDOORS! There is a growing body of evidence that children who play outside often may have a lower risk of myopia development or progression.
- Take breaks! For every 20 minutes of near work take a 20 second break looking 20 feet away!
- Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)
- These are rigid contact lenses worn at night during sleep which reshape the cornea to correct myopia. The lenses are removed in the morning and the cornea holds this new shape all day so the child has no glasses or contacts during waking hours.
- This can be done in younger children depending on maturity level because lenses are worn only at home with adult supervision.
- Myopia progression is decreased on average by 50%
- Soft Multifocal/Bifocal Contact Lenses
- Multifocal/Bifocal daily disposable soft contact lenses can slow myopia progression by 50% or more. Daily disposable contact lenses are safe and easy to use.
- Diluted Atropine treatment
- Low dose atropine eye drops are used every evening along with regular glasses wear to help reduce myopia progression by approximately 70%. Side effects are minimized by the low dose, however some children may experience mildly dilated pupil and some light sensitivity which can be managed by sunglass usage and progressive or bifocal glasses.
- Bifocal or Progressive Glasses
- In certain patients progressive or bifocal glasses can help decrease the progression of myopia, but results are inconsistent.