MYOPIA MANAGEMENT/MYOPIA CONTROL (SLOWING DOWN NEARSIGHTEDNESS)
What is Myopia?
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a condition that arises when the eye grows too long. When the eye is elongated, incoming light is focused incorrectly causing visual blur. In order for the brain to see a clear image, light rays must be re-focused on the retina, the back tissue of the eye. Corrective lenses (glasses or contact lenses), with minus power are used to re-focus these light rays and form clear images on the retina in patients with myopia. Onset of myopia typically happens during childhood. The exact cause of myopia is unknown, but there is significant evidence that myopia is inherited if one or both parents are nearsighted.
Recent studies have shown a dramatic increase in the prevalence of myopia. In the past 50 years, myopia has increased in the United States from 25% to 42%, with a projected growth to 50% by 2050, according to the World Health Organization.
Why does myopia need to be controlled?
Low amounts of myopia can be easily corrected with glasses or contacts and do not generally pose any health risks. However, as myopia progresses to higher numbers (as a result of the eye’s uncontrolled elongation), there are complications that can arise as a result of the eye being stretched. A major public health concern, myopia poses a heavy health and economic burden to society. High myopia increases a patient’s risk for serious sight-threatening retinal damage, glaucoma, and cataracts.
Can you prevent myopia?
Although myopia (nearsightedness) is mostly an inherited condition, research has shown that the onset of nearsightedness can be affected by daily habits and how someone uses their eyes.
Beyond your genes, environmental factors such as the amount of time spent outdoors, physical activity and the amount of time doing near work such as reading and using computers and mobile devices play a role in modulating the development of myopia.
SPEND TIME OUTDOORS and TAKE BREAKS FROM PROLONGED NEAR WORK
Studies have shown that children who spend more time outdoors have a lesser chance of becoming nearsightedness.
It is thought that natural sunlight or sufficient distance-viewing time may provide important cues for eye development. Similar studies suggest that prolonged near work may result in peripheral hyperopic defocus of the retina, leading to the eyeball growing too long, which results in worsening myopia.
How is myopia managed?
Myopia can be managed or controlled when the eye is still developing. Myopic progression can be slowed by changing where light focuses in the periphery of the eye. When light focuses behind the eye in the periphery, the eye is stimulated to grow and in turn increase in myopia. Myopia control utilizes this science with different treatment modalities all aimed at focusing peripheral light in front of the retina, called myopic defocus.
What treatment modalities are used for myopia management?
Myopia management is usually broken up into four different categories:
- progressive or bifocal lenses
- orthokeratology – lenses that patients sleep in overnight to flatten the central cornea and steepen the peripheral corneal
- atropine drops -diluted dilating drops that have shown great success in slowing myopia progression
- multifocal contact lenses
- MiSight contact lenses are the only FDA approved treatment modality for myopia management.
How will I know if my child needs myopia management?
Myopia progression is picked up at routine eye care appointments! Patients most at risk are those who are near-sighted at a young age and those with two near-sighted patients. If a patient is determined to be a good candidate for myopia management, they will undergo a complete evaluation to determine which treatment modality suits the child and the family. The goal of this management is not to completely halt progression of myopia, but to slow the progression and reduce the final length of the eye. This lowers a patient’s risk for the aforementioned complications and can reduce dependence on corrective lenses.