Preserving Vision With Myopia Control
How Myopia Works
Myopia or nearsightedness is what’s called a refractive error. In an error free eye, light focuses directly on the retina, causing crisp, clear vision. But when the eyeball grows too long for the relative curve of the cornea, it causes light to focus on a point just in front of the retina. Because light isn’t focusing in the right spot, your eyes can’t get a clear picture of objects that are further away.
Myopia is on the Rise in American Kids
Myopia isn’t just getting more and more common; it’s affecting kids at a younger and younger age. Though scientists can’t pinpoint exactly what’s causing the trend, there’s data to indicate that spending less time outside and more time staring at screens could have something to do with it.
As kids get older, their eyes grow with them. This can make their myopia worse; exacerbating the ratio of the length of the eyeball to the curve of the cornea. Myopia control can help keep your child’s vision from getting significantly worse as they grow up.
The Science of Myopia Control
With the exception of laser eye surgery, there isn’t really a cure for myopia; myopia control doesn’t get rid of the refractive error.
Instead, myopia control keeps the the condition from getting worse. Controlling myopia means your child won’t have to rely on as strong of a prescription as they might otherwise; giving them a little more freedom by preserving some of the acuity they already have.
Part of controlling myopia is reducing eye strain. Research suggests that straining the eyes or forcing the eye muscles to work extra hard can contribute to the progression of myopia. Different methods of myopia control focus on keeping the eye from straining at any distance; be it close-up or far away.
Is Myopia Control an Option for Adults?
Most of us would love the chance to keep our eyesight from changing down the line, so it’s not unreasonable to hope that we grown-ups can benefit from myopia control too.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that it’s particularly effective for adults. As a result, doctors mostly focus on how myopia control affects children, as they get the best results.
Methods of Myopia Control
There are a few different options in terms of myopia control, each with its own merits and benefits. When we talk about myopia control with you and your child, we’ll take the time to explain all your options. It’s important to us that both you and your child are comfortable with and confident in the method of myopia control we choose to pursue. We’re happy to talk about it with you for as long as you need us to.
Orthokeratology (or ortho-k) uses contact lenses to temporarily change the structure of the eye. Your child will put their rigid gas permeable ortho-k contact lenses in every night before they go to bed. As they sleep, this gentle vision shaping system delicately reshapes the cornea.
In the morning, your child will remove the lenses, and enjoy clear vision without glasses for the rest of the day. Throughout the day, your child’s cornea will slowly go back to its natural shape, meaning the treatment is totally reversible and won’t hinder any future treatments.
Because eye strain tends to make myopia worse, atropine aims to reduce instances of eye strain. These drops relax and paralyze the focusing muscles around the eye, keeping your eyes from working too hard while they try to focus. Atropine drops have been used for years and are one of the oldest methods of myopia control available.
Multifocal Contact Lenses
Much like multifocal glasses, multifocal contacts are designed with different levels of magnification in different areas of the lens. These lenses are effective as a means of myopia control because they allow a child to see clearly at all distances rather than magnifying distant objects while simultaneously making close objects more difficult to see. This goes a long way towards eliminating strain which contributes to the progression of myopia.