Myopia (nearsightedness) is a common vision problem affecting children who can see well up close, while distant objects are blurred. Nearsighted children tend to squint to see distant objects such as the board at school. They also tend to sit closer to the television to see it more clearly.
Sometimes, childhood myopia can worsen year after year. This change can be disconcerting to both children and their parents, prompting the question: "Will it ever stop? Or, someday will this get so bad that glasses won't help?"
Myopia that develops in childhood nearly always stabilizes by age 20. But by then, some kids have become very nearsighted. Here are two possible ways to slow down the progression of myopia in children:
Orthokeratology: Corneal Shaping
Recent studies indicate wearing rigid gas permeable contact lenses during sleep (also referred to as "RGP" or "GP" lenses) slows or stops the progression of nearsightedness in children.
Orthokeratology, "orthoK" is the use of specially-designed gas permeable contact lenses to flatten the shape of the cornea and thereby reduce or correct mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness. The lenses are worn during sleep and removed in the morning. Though temporary eyeglasses may be required during the early stages of orthoK, many people with low to moderate amounts of myopia can see well without glasses or contact lenses during the day after wearing the corneal reshaping lenses at night. Overnight treatment. Daytime freedom!
Recent research also suggests ortho-k may also reduce the lengthening of the eye itself, indicating that wearing ortho-k lenses during childhood may actually cause a permanent reduction in myopia, even if the lenses are discontinued in adulthood.
Analysis of recent studies to determine the safety and effectiveness of orthokeratology versus soft contact lenses, rigid gas permeable lenses, and spectacles in children published in the the American Journal of Ophthalmology, December, 2013, "show that the use of orthokeratology is a safe and efficacious nonsurgical treatment for myopia and that it is capable of slowing axial elongation, making it an effective myopic treatment for children".
Some evidence suggests wearing eyeglasses with bifocal or progressive multifocal lenses may slow the progression of nearsightedness in some children in Mobile, AL. The mechanism here appears to be that the added magnifying power in these lenses reduces focusing fatigue during reading and other close work, a problem that may contribute to increasing myopia.
A five-year study published in the February 2007 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science produced an interesting result involving nearsighted children whose mother and father were also nearsighted. These children, who wore eyeglasses with progressive multifocal lenses during the course of the study, had less progression of their myopia than similar children who wore eyeglasses with regular, single vision lenses.
See us for a consultation
If you are concerned about your child becoming more nearsighted year-to-year, call us at 251-470-8844 to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and consultation with Dr. Jackson. We can evaluate the progression of their myopia and discuss the best treatment options with you.