The condition known as myopia, or nearsightedness is becoming more and more common throughout the world. People that have myopia have a generally longer eyeball which causes a de-focusing of light as it enters the eye, making the person unable to see at faraway distances. Low amounts of myopia are generally easy to manage with glasses and contacts, however as the eye becomes longer we must consider not only needing thicker glasses and higher-powered contacts but also keep in mind the fact that this elongation contributes to increased risk of retinal detachments, cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
“Myopia Control” refers to methods of intervention used to slow down the progression of myopia, especially in children who are diagnosed with myopia at younger ages and show rapid progression. Once myopia sets in, the eye can continue to elongate well into your 20s. Studies have shown that wearing standard glasses and contacts have no statistically significant effect in slowing down myopic progression. However, at our office, we offer two methods of myopia control that have been proven through long-term studies to reduce the progression of myopia up to 50%.
These two methods are 1. Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) and 2. Application of low-dose Atropine drops once daily.
Ortho-K involves reshaping the cornea with lenses that are worn during sleep in order to correct myopia and provide a type of peripheral defocus that signals the eye to slow down elongation, thus slowing down myopia progression. The SMART study has shown that Ortho-K wear significantly reduces the amount of myopia progression in children compared to those who wear disposable soft contact lenses over the long term.
Atropine is a drop that is often used to dilate the eyes of younger children and adults. The ATOM study has shown that when an extremely diluted form of this drop is applied once daily, the progression of myopia is reduced up to 50% vs using just standard glasses correction. Because the drop is significantly diluted it causes very little dilation and almost no effect on the focusing system of the eye. The action mechanism of these drops in controlling myopia and elongation is the blockage of a particular type of cell receptor in the eye that may signal it to lengthen.
Both of these methods are clinically safe. If you as a parent are concerned about the progression of your child’s prescription, we would be happy to determine if either method would be appropriate for your children.