Myopia, or near-sightedness, is a growing public health issue, with an estimated 28% global prevalence in 2010 and projected to increase to 50% by 2050.1 In Canada, pilot study in 2018 shows 29% of children aged 11-13 demonstrated a prevalence of myopia.2 To protect these young people from losing their sight in later life, and ensure healthy vision for adulthood, medical professionals are looking for ways to slow the progression of the disease. Here are 3 ways to control myopia from getting worse.
Low-dose atropine eye drops
Low-dose atropine eye drops administered nightly over the course of 2-3 years have been found to be effective in controlling the progression of myopia in children aged 5-18. The exact mechanism behind how this works is not yet well understood; however it is believed that atropine may decrease axial elongation by relaxing the ciliary muscles which control accommodation. While side effects such as redness or itchiness around the eye area may occur with this treatment, they are generally minor compared to its benefit of improving vision.
Peripheral defocus glasses or multifocal contact lenses
Peripheral defocus glasses or multifocal contact lenses are a type of eyewear specifically designed for children and young adults to slow down the progression of myopia, or nearsightedness. They work by altering the peripheral vision, so that it experiences a different kind of blur than what is experienced in the center field of view. This difference in focal point stimulates the eye to decrease its level of growth, which is often a contributory factor to myopia progression.
These corrective lenses can be worn by kids as young as six and they are normally advised to be worn during waking hours. Additionally, they can be used together with other treatments such as orthokeratology or atropine eye drops. It should be noted that these lenses aren’t intended to cure myopia nor do they improve visual acuity; rather, they are just one component among several options available for managing myopia in young people.
Orthokeratology (or ‘ortho-K’) provides a solution for myopia by temporarily reshaping the cornea while you sleep - so when you wake up, your sight is sharper and ready to take on the day! Wearing Ortho-K lenses only improves vision for a short time. Once you stop wearing the lenses, the cornea slowly goes back to its normal shape and myopia comes back. However, many studies have shown that Ortho-K lenses slow eye growth, and Ortho-K may also provide some permanent reduction in myopia progression.
Choosing the right treatment
Getting the right vision treatment for your child is essential, and fortunately there are various options available to cater for a range of needs. Your optometrist will be able to advise you on the best course of action, all tailored depending upon prescription level and eye sensitivity key factors such as hygiene and lifestyle choice. Doctors may even combine treatment methods if needed; enabling them to create an ideal solution in pursuit of optimum results.
Red House Vision Centre is a full-service optometry clinic and optical store located in Oshawa serving the Durham region of Ontario. Our Optometrist Dr. Yang is passionate about myopia control and looks forward to answering your questions. Give us a call - we'd be happy to help out!
Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(5):1036-42.
Yang M, Luensmann D, Fonn D, Woods J, Jones D, Gordon K, et al. Myopia prevalence in Canadian school children: a pilot study. Eye (Lond). 2018;32(6):1042-7.