Myopia (Nearsightedness)

What is Myopia?

Myopia (nearsightedness) is a common eye problem with increasing prevalence world-wide. It is typically correctable with glasses or contact lenses, however, high levels of myopia can cause vision-threatening complications. The risk of complications increases with any increase in the amount of myopia. Children with early onset myopia are at greater risk of developing these complications.  

At Lurie Children’s, pediatric optometrists can work with young patients with myopia to help manage myopia, potentially reducing the frequency of prescription changes for glasses and/or preventing the vision from worsening. 

What are Some Risk Factors for Progression of Myopia? 

  • Family history
  • Spending a lot of time looking at screens or reading material up close without adequate breaks (greater than 45 minutes and working distance of less than 20cm) 
  • Lack of outdoor time (at least 40 minutes daily)
  • Poor reading hygiene (dim lighting, short working distance)

What are Some Lifestyle Modifications to Help Slow the Progression of Myopia? 

  • Spend 1-2 hours outdoors daily
  • Follow the 20/20 rule. After every 20 minutes of near work, look at something 20 feet away for 2-3 minutes 
  • Limit screen time

Why is Myopia Management Important?

There are two mail goals associated with managing myopia. In the short term, it can potentially reduce the frequency of prescription changes and prevent vision from worsening/becoming more dependent on glasses. In the long-term, it can reduce the risk of eye disease and vision impairment in adulthood.  

What are Some Treatment Options for Slowing the Progress of Myopia? 

Peripheral Defocus Contact Lenses

A daily disposable contact lens design offers sharp central vision while providing peripheral defocus. The peripheral defocus is theorized to slow down myopic progression by focusing the image in front of the retina – stimulating the eye to want to shorten rather than elongate. Though the lens cannot actually reverse myopia or shorten the eye, the lens effectively slows down growth and minimizes myopic progression.

Orthokeratology 

OrthoK lenses are custom-designed reverse-geometry hard contact lenses that are worn overnight and removed upon awakening. If your child stops wearing the nightly lens, the eye shape and prescription will return to its baseline after a few weeks… Because patients are wearing the same lens overnight, proper hygiene and lens care is important to avoid infections.  

Low Dose Atropine 

Atropine eye drops are used by eye care professionals to dilate the eyes and relax the focusing system. Studies have found that low concentrations of atropine are effective at slowing down myopic progression. Low dose atropine is not commercially available and must be compounded at a specialty pharmacy. It is currently prescribed “off-label” for myopia control, as it has not yet received FDA approval for this purpose.