Myopia is the single most significant cause of distance vision impairment and high myopia. Patients with myopia can see objects nearby clearly, but those which are further away appear blurred. It is primarily thought to be caused by the eyeball growing too long in comparison to the focusing power of the lens, and often develops between the ages of 8 and 16 when a child’s eyes undergo a period of rapid growth. However, it can occur at any age. As a progressive condition, it will continue to get worse unless treatment is sought. In the meantime, patients will need to wear refractive lenses either in glasses or contact lenses to help them to see clearly at all distances. Once a person’s prescription is stable, they may choose to consider laser vision surgery to permanently correct their vision.
While on the surface myopia may not appear to be serious, if it is allowed to progress it can significantly increase a patient’s risk of developing a range of different eye conditions, including macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment, all of which can affect your vision. Some even lead to blindness.
Experts believe that the earlier patients with myopia undergo treatment to slow or halt its progression, the better their overall long-term vision will be. In many instances, it can even prevent patients from the early onset of many serious eye conditions. And the good news is that most myopia management options can be started as young as 8 years of age. Here’s what you need to know about myopia management. Treatment options.
Orthokeratology, or ortho-k for short, is one of the most popular myopia management treatments. The technique uses custom-designed contact lenses which are worn overnight, reshaping the lens of the eye while the patient sleeps. They are gas-permeable which allows oxygen to keep the eyes healthy and comfortable, and tear film flows around the lens to help shape the eye further. The next day, the patient can remove the ortho-k lenses and go about their day as usual. The added benefit of ortho-k lenses is that, since the eye maintains its shape for a number of hours, with regular use patients can see clearly for the duration of the day without relying on any prescriptive eyewear. Ortho-k will help to slow the progression of myopia for as long as treatment continues. However, if treatment ceases, the eyes will return to their usual shape.
Center-distance, soft, multifocal contact lenses have been found to help slow the progression of myopia too. In a recent 2-year study, children wearing multifocal lenses had 25% less myopia progression and 31% percent less elongation of the eye than those wearing single-vision lenses. This is because soft multifocal lenses have been shown to reduce key elements of vision which are believed to be responsible for eye elongation. The lenses also impose myopic defocus across areas of the retina which is considered to inhibit eye growth. Soft, multifocal lenses can be supplied as disposable dailies or longer-wear varieties.
Atropine is a prescription medication that is used to treat a number of health conditions, as well as being used before eye exams to widen the pupil of the eye and to help with eye disorders such as uveitis. However, atropine is also considered to be an extremely effective therapy for myopia control and may help to prevent myopia progression in high-risk children. These eye drops work by dilating (widening) the pupil of the eye which relaxes the eye’s focusing mechanisms – something which has been shown to help reduce focusing fatigue which is believed to contribute towards the progression of myopia. Atropine eye drops work best in conjunction with either ortho-k or soft multi-focal lenses.
If you’d like more information about the best way to slow nearsightedness and keeping myopia under control, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our eye care team in Lawrence, KS.