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.
In order to prevent the onset of myopia, we recommend the following protective measures be taken by all children:
- Spend 1-2 hours outdoors daily
- Take frequent breaks from near work
- Maintain a healthy working distance – keep book/tablet/computer at arm's length
What is the treatment for myopia?
For children with signs of myopic progression and/or a strong family history of myopia, additional interventions may be recommended. Ongoing studies suggest that eye drops and specialty contact lenses are effective at slowing down myopic progression. As such, your practitioner may offer the following:
Atropine is an eye drop that relaxes the visual system and dilates the pupil. It has been used in ophthalmology for decades for dilation. Recent 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 obtained from a compounding pharmacy. It is currently prescribed 'off label' for myopia control, as it has not yet received FDA approval for this purpose. Side effects are dose-dependent and may include light sensitivity and near blur. Proper UV protection is important while utilizing the drops.
Peripheral Defocus Contact Lenses
A novel daily disposable contact lens design offers sharp central vision while providing peripheral defocus. The peripheral defocus is theorized to slow down myopic progression by bringing the image in front of the retina - stimulating the eye to want to shorten rather than elongate. This contact lens is the only FDA-approved treatment specified for myopia control. Studies show efficacy between ages 8-12, however, we have children as young as 5 years old successfully wearing these contact lenses. A contact lens fitting and training session are provided in order to ensure comfort and safety.