As a parent of a child that is nearsighted, you may be wondering, besides for needing to get my child glasses every year, what do I need to know about nearsightedness?
First, what is Nearsightedness?
Being nearsighted or having Myopia is the most common form of refractive error. Not only is it the most common, it is also growing at alarming rates with an estimated 5 billion people being myopic by 2050!
Myopia which starts at the early year of school (6-10 years of age) and continues to progress in severity every year, until late teenage years, was historically not shown much concern by the medical community. That is because there was an assumption by optometrists and ophthalmologists that aside from needing a new prescription every year, there was no danger in being myopic.
Why is Nearsightedness dangerous?
In recent years as the incidence of myopia has risen as high as 90% in some Asian countries, researchers have placed a renewed importance on understanding the risks of medium and high myopia. And the research has been the cause of huge concern for the medical community as it was shown that medium and high myopia increases the risk of severe eye diseases by as much as 2200%.
Because of the danger posed by myopia, a mass of new medical research has gone into the development of different methods to slow down the progression of myopia in children. These methods are called myopia control, and there are currently three primary methods being practiced across the world.
- Multifocal Contact Lenses: Soft daily contacts are specially formatted to reduce progression by creating a defocus in the peripheral vision. The benefits of soft contacts are their long history of use, ease of use, relatively low price, and efficacy at reducing progression.
- Ortho K: Often called by many other names such as Orthokeratology, GVSS, and CRT. These are custom contacts that work like a retainer gently molding the eye while sleeping. The big benefit of OrthoK is that it leaves the child with 2020 vision during the day, increasing visual performance for school and sport and improving social performance.
- Atropine Treatment: Atropine is an ultra-low dose of the eye drops optometrists use to dilate the pupil for an eye exam. Because of the low dosage, there are no symptoms such as blurriness. This is considered the ideal form of treatment for children that are too young for contact lenses.