Childhood myopia or nearsightedness is a common condition that causes blurred vision for distance. It can be easily corrected with either glasses or contact lenses. Unfortunately, a pair of glasses can’t always solve the problem, because often myopia is progressive that every year the vision gets worse. This usually continues until sometime around the child’s 20th birthday when his/her eyes stop growing and eyesight levels off.
It can be worrisome and quite disconcerting for both the parent and the child when every visit to the eye doctor results in a higher prescription. There are various factors involved in progressive myopia, like hereditary factors, environmental or behavioral factor such as frequent close-up tasks such as reading or using an electronic device. In fact, studies show that children who spend more time on outdoors activities have a lower incidence of myopia. Researchers found many treatments for slowing down or stopping myopia progression in children. Here are some of the treatment options currently being offered:
Ortho-k is a process that uses specially designed rigid gas permeable contact lenses worn at night to gently reshape the cornea, eventually allowing clear vision during the day. The lenses are worn every night depending on the results of the individual. Ideal for mild to moderate myopia, usually Ortho-k takes a few weeks to show results, during which time the patient may need to temporarily continue wearing glasses or contact lenses.
The use of Ortho-k can reduce progressive increase in axial length of the eye which is responsible for nearsightedness and can therefore slow or stop the childhood progression of the condition. Therefore, in addition to being used for myopia correction, it is now also being offered as a therapeutic treatment to halt myopia progression in children.
Bifocal or multi-focal soft contact lenses or glasses can also slow myopia progression. This therapy is based on the idea that the eye is strained from accommodating to see close up and that by providing multiple focusing powers, that allows the eye to relax when doing near work. It reduces the progression of the refractive error. This treatment has been shown to delay or slow the advancement of myopia in some children.
Treatment with atropine drops is another therapy that is used to relax the eye from “focusing fatigue” which may be a culprit in myopia progression. Research is still being done but some studies show that daily use of low doses of atropine drops do slow the progression of myopia. Atropine drops dilate the pupil which temporarily prevents the eye from being able to focus, thereby allowing this mechanism to relax. Research is still being done to find proper dosages, but the results are promising.
If your child has progressive myopia, seek out a pediatric optometrist who is knowledgeable about the options available. Finding the right treatment could give your child the gift of better eyesight for life.
To know more about this treatment modality Book your appointment with Dr. Jani.
Dr. Jani is also a member of GCOMM Myopia Council and Brien Holden Vision Institute.
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