Myopia, the clinical term for nearsightedness, is blurry distance vision that results when light rays are focused in front of the retina due to a longer than average eyeball. Myopia is often first diagnosed in school aged children and arises from a complex interplay of genetic and lifestyle risk factors including:
- Having one or both parents who are myopic
- Less time spent outdoors
- Intensive near work
- Poor lighting levels
The rate and severity of myopia is growing at an alarming rate especially in children ages 7-12.
Approximately 50% or 5 billion of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.
In the U.S. alone, the prevalence of myopia has almost doubled in the last 30 years
Glasses or contact lenses can compensate for this blur but are unable to slow this vision decline. Why is progression concerning? Increasing levels of myopia is linked with excessive eye lengthening which stretches the retina and places your child at risk for developing vision-threatening pathologies later on. The younger the child, the faster their rate of progression and the greater their risk for high myopia (> -5.00 diopters) and eye pathologies:
- Retinal detachment
- Myopic macular degeneration
While high myopia is most concerning, research has shown that no amount of myopia is safe. Each diopter or “unit” of correction that can be prevented will improve your child’s quality of life, lower their risk for visual impairment, boost their self-esteem as well as maximize their potential for sports, academics, and occupations in the future.
Current evidence now points to myopia as a disease that should be proactively managed. The good news is there are steps you can take to slow your child’s increasing glasses prescription. There are well-studied optical and pharmaceutical interventions that can effectively control myopic progression by an average of 45-60%. These treatments can be prescribed alone or in combination based on your child’s level of myopia and progression history:
- Low dose atropine: these are topical eye drops in concentrations of 0.01 to 0.025% available by prescription from a compounding pharmacy. Atropine drops are to be instilled in each eye nightly. Risks of side effects are usually very low at this dose and can include pupil dilation, light sensitivity, and blurred near vision.
- Orthokeratology (ortho-K): this corneal reshaping therapy requires the child to wear a custom made permeable retainer lens nightly to slow myopia progression with the added benefit of good uncorrected daytime vision.
- MiSight® 1 Day contact lenses: the first and only FDA approved daily disposable contact lenses clinically proven to slow myopia progression when initiated in children ages 8-12. Furthermore, evidence from ongoing studies suggests even those who start treatment in their mid-teens can benefit.
Dr. Rebecca Chung is a fellowship-trained contact lens and myopia management specialist and the only eye doctor north of Sacramento certified in the Brilliant FuturesTM Myopia Management program to offer MiSight® 1 Day. Schedule a consult today.