The Myopia Debate

What is it? Myopia or short-sightedness simply occurs when the physiological parameters of the eye, result in light rays falling in front of the retina. Almost always this is due to elongation of the eye and naturally occurs during the years when children grow most – between the ages of 7 and 20 yrs. Changes to the size and shape of the eye can occur outside this age group but these are the most common years.

Why is myopia being talked about in the media so often? It is generally accepted that Myopia is the leading cause of vision loss in the world. Globally there has been a significant increase in the incidence of myopia around the world. This is occurring most frequently in the South East Asian countries however there have been increases in the incidence of myopia in countries like Australia and the USA. It is being predicted that by the year 2050, almost half of the world’s population will be myopic! From an individual’s perspective, the onset of myopia can impact an one’s quality of life, whilst higher levels of myopia can cause several ocular diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Who is most likely to develop myopia? People of Asian origin are the most likely to develop myopia, whilst children who have parents with myopia are more at risk than those who do not have parents with myopia. The absence of a parent with myopia, however does not guarantee against a child developing myopia. It is this latest fact that is seeing the greatest interest in the onset of myopia. Generally speaking though, if a child has one parent with myopia, then that child is up to 2 times more likely to develop myopia. If a child has both parents with myopia, then the risk of developing myopia increases to almost 7 times.

What can be done to correct myopia? The obvious treatment option is the prescribing of spectacles. This is a safe and non-invasive method that has been used since in some form since the 15th century. Whilst many practitioners advocate the use of multifocal spectacles, at Eyeman we do not prescribe these spectacles as the benefits are minimal at best and the cost to you simply is not justified! Please discuss this with us if you need further explanation.

Contact lenses of varying types have been used successfully for correcting myopia since the 1800’s. Options vary from rigid gas permeable lenses (RGP’s), disposable soft contact lenses, multifocal contact lenses and the use of myopia control specific lenses such as disposable myopia multifocal lenses and Ortho-K contact lenses.

What can be done to limit myopia progression? The latter two forms of contact lenses mentioned above

 

The Eyeman Philosophy to treating and controlling myopia progression:

Due to continuing variability in research findings relating to treatment outcomes, our philosophy at Eyeman is to manage your child’s myopia in consultation with both the parents and the child involved to minimize potential progression of the myopia.

This begins through a full examination that involves an in-depth family and individual history, objective and subjective measures of refractive error, evaluation of binocular function and flexibility and binocular performance under cognitive load, evaluation of corneal shape factor and a review of the individual’s daily behaviours such as amounts of time spent indoors, levels of physical activity and amount of time spent using a digital device for near tasks and reading times.

If your child is indeed myopic and in need of refractive correction, our preference is to avoid a spectacle correction for distance vision and to proceed directly to using Orthokeratology (Ortho-K). This is simply due to the success we have experienced over the last 20 years of fitting Ortho-k contact lenses and the freedom that this form of correction provides – no form of correction during the waking hours of your child. If other concerns are noted during the initial examination – adjunct therapies maybe recommended and these will be discussed with you at the time of the initial consultation.

At Eyeman we are aware that there are the rare occasions whereby Ortho-k may not be suitable for your child, and whilst this may seem disappointing to you and your child, please be aware that other regimes are available, including soft multifocal contact lenses for myopia and even simple spectacle wear but most likely in conjunction with the use of Atropine drops.