Ways to Control Myopia Progression in Children
Myopia (nearsightedness) is a prevalent vision disorder in children, affecting about 42% of kids ages five to 19 in North America. Currently, there is no known way to cure myopia, but several methods are being used to slow its progression. Slowing the progression of myopia in children is important because it could potentially prevent these young patients from complications such as vision loss, glaucoma, and retinal detachments. If you are concerned about your child’s vision and want to do everything you can to try and delay the worsening of their myopia, here are a few things you can try.
The best way to control any disease, including myopia, is to prevent it. You may not always be able to prevent your child from becoming nearsighted, but you can be proactive about taking steps to minimize the risk and begin treatment as early as possible. Especially if you or your partner are nearsighted, be sure to take your child to see an eye doctor at the recommended ages to discuss the issue and receive professional advice. A child’s first eye exam should take place between six and 12 months of age, depending on the risk.
Reduce Eye Strain
Myopia generally has a combination of genetic and environmental causes. Unfortunately, it is not usually possible to determine the exact cause of an individual patient’s vision loss. However, there are some common factors that eye doctors regularly see in patients with this problem. One of them is the recent dramatic increase in eye strain from digital devices. Be sure to limit your child’s access to screens and enforce regular breaks to reduce stress on the eyes, such as a five-minute break every half-hour.
Increasing time spent outdoors has also been shown to reduce the risk of onset of myopia and progression.
Do Not Request Under-Correction
One popular “solution” for myopia is under-corrected eyeglasses. Parents often ask eye doctors to prescribe lenses that are not as strong as the child needs to “keep their vision from getting worse.” In fact, there is no evidence to show that this approach works – just the opposite, rather. That means that not only should you not ask for under-corrected lenses, but you should also be sure to take your child to see the eye doctor regularly to be sure that their prescription hasn’t changed, as wearing under-corrected eyeglasses for prolonged periods could worsen the problem.
Orthokeratology has been used for years to treat myopia in both children and adults with excellent success rates. This treatment involves wearing special contact lenses at night while you sleep. These lenses, called ortho-k lenses, are designed to mold the cornea into a new shape, correcting myopia by resolving any existing refractive error. Upon waking in the morning, the patient can remove the lenses and go about their normal daily activities with crystal-clear vision. The effects are temporary, lasting only a day or two, so patients insert these lenses every night for best results.
There are, unfortunately, some websites that promise to eliminate, reverse, or cure myopia with special eyeglasses or exercises. These sites sometimes charge thousands of dollars for their services. They often sound scientific and informative, but they cannot deliver on their promises. Instead of spending money or wasting time on these, see your eye doctor for myopia advice and treatment.
At Miami Contact Lens Institute, we offer a range of treatments in our Myopia Management Clinic, including orthokeratology, distance center multifocal soft contact lenses, and atropine treatment (eye drops or ointments that relax the focus center of the eyes by dilating the pupils). All our services are science-based and proven to help slow the progression of myopia. Contact us today to learn more.