Myopia or short-sightedness causes blurry vision in the distance. It usually begins in childhood and is more common in children who have a myopic parent, although sometimes there is no family history.
Myopia is increasing worldwide with some calling this a ‘myopia boom’. This phenomenon is most striking in the East Asia where 90% of Chinese teenagers & young adults are myopic. Prevalence has also doubled within a century in Europe and in Australian 12 year olds it doubled between 2006 and 2011! This is a worrying public health issue, as short sight is connected with a number of more serious eye problems in later life such as retinal detachment, cataract, glaucoma & maculopathy. With every increase in myopia, the risk of developing these conditions increases. We expect that our children will live longer than us and we need to do all we can to preserve their vision!
Why is myopia increasing?
Parental history, ethnicity, environment (living indoors in cities) and spending longer each day on near tasks have all been linked to the onset and progression of myopia
Because myopia is increasing globally much research has been done to try and find ways to stop or slow down progression of myopia. Unfortunately no ‘cure’ has been found, and although most children stop getting more and more short-sighted as they leave their teens, there is no way to completely stop short sight increasing.
However, success has been achieved in slowing down the rate of progression meaning that the end result in most cases is a less short sighted prescription. The earlier treatment is started the better, although it is never too late.
Is my child at risk?
A web questionnaire is available for free at myopiacare.org which uses an algorithm taking into account age, current glasses prescription, family history and other factors to assess the risk of progressive myopia.
What are the treatments?
Firstly there is one thing that all parents can do straight away to help their child – get them to spend more time outdoors! Studies have shown that increasing outdoor time slows myopia progression and there is ongoing research to find out why this is, and whether the quality of the light the child is exposed to is important. A good time to aim for is 2 hours per day outdoors.
Alternatively there are more technical methods which are of proven benefit:
MiSight® 1 day specialist daily disposable lenses and Mylo monthly replacement lenses are specifically developed for this purpose
Specialist rigid (hard) overnight contact lenses (orthokeratology, sometimes called Ortho K)
MiYOSMART glasses lenses from Hoya
A small number of myopic children with a particular eye muscle co-ordination issue respond to bifocal spectacles
Pharmacological therapy, using eye drops to affect the focussing. This treatment is not currently available in the UK as drug safety trials are still underway.
The internet is awash with ‘miracle cures’ for all sorts of conditions and it is important to note that any other treatments you may have read about for example behavioural therapy, eye exercises, pinhole glasses, have not been clinically proven to slow myopia progression with rigorously controlled scientific studies. More information is available at myopiaprevention.org
What can Donner Optometrists offer?
You can be confident that our optometrists are very experienced in examining children and fitting contact lenses. In addition they have undergone training and accreditation in Myopia Management treatments.
MiSight® 1 day lenses and Naturalvue are daily disposable soft lenses that are worn for 10 hours each day with a new fresh pair being used every day. They are soft and comfortable to wear and children adapt very quickly to them and often much quicker than adults! These lenses can usually be fitted to young children, but there are proven benefits regardless of the age of the child, although the earlier in the development of myopia, the greater the overall end result will be.
Alternatively, monthly Mylo soft contact lenses are worn on a daily wear basis, cleaned each night and are replaced each month.
MiYOSMART glasses lenses are an alternative to contact lenses and 2 year studies give comparable results.
All therapies only slow down the progression of myopia & it will be unlikely to stop it. Pre-existing myopia will not be reversed. However these lenses cost only a few pounds more than conventional soft contact lenses which will not slow down myopic progression. Call us to book an appointment.