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 three possible ways to slow down the progression of myopia in children:
Myopia Management Lenses and Contact Lenses
Myopia is becoming a serious problem in more and more countries. Especially in urban areas in Asia, almost 90% of young people develop myopia before the age of 204. – a trend that continues worldwide. Studies predict that, by the year 2050, nearly 50 percent of the world’s population could be shortsighted. In a worst-case scenario, early myopia can lead to the emergence of progressive myopia, a severe form of short-sightedness: after the onset, a person’s vision may quickly deteriorate at a rate of one diopter per year and turn into high myopia, which increases the risk of other eye problems, such as damage to the retina or even blindness.
New developments in Myopia Management has brought us the innovation of Myopic Management lenses and contact lenses! Special myopia management lenses are a convenient method for treating progressive myopia in children. These lenses are designed for treating the progression of myopia and are probably the most comfortable solution for a young patient. Studies have shown that lenses specially designed for myopia management are a better solution than standard single vision lenses.
Since lack of sunlight, more work in the near vision range and too much time indoors are also crucial factors in the emergence of myopia in children, it is recommended that kids spend more time outdoors – in addition to treatment with eyeglass lenses. Studies have shown that myopia is less common or progresses less quickly in children who are frequently outside. It has been proven that children enjoy better results by combining myopia management treatments with a healthy lifestyle – including breaks from digital devices like smartphones and tablets!
Gas permeable contact lenses
In 2001 to 2004, the National Eye Institute (NEI) conducted a controlled study to determine whether wearing GP lenses is effective in slowing the progression of myopia in children. The 116 participants in the study were 8 to 11 years old when the research began.
At the end of the three-year study period, the children who wore GP lenses had only 0.63 diopter (D) less nearsightedness than the kids in the control group who wore soft contact lenses.
The study also found that wearing GP lenses does not slow the growth of the eye, which causes most of the myopia in children. The reduced progression of myopia among those children wearing GP lenses was due only to the effect the lenses had on the front surface of the eye (the cornea). Children who wore the GP lenses had less increase in corneal curvature than those who wore soft contact lenses. The NEI researchers believe these GP lens-induced changes in corneal curvature are not likely to be permanent, and therefore the effect of GP lenses on controlling myopia progression may not be permanent.
Orthokeratology, or “ortho-k,” 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 ortho-k, 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.
Recent research 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.
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.
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