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Myopia Management

Can Myopia be Cured?

Can Myopia be Cured 640×350Myopia (nearsightedness) has no known cure, but there are treatments and management strategies that are vitally important when a child has myopia. Myopia is not just an inconvenience. It can have serious sight-threatening consequences in adulthood.

What is Myopia?

Myopia is the most prevalent refractive error. It occurs when the focusing power of the eye is too high, causing light rays to focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it.

Myopia is most often caused by the cornea, the front of the eye, having a high focusing power or the length of the eye being too long. Both result in blurry vision as the light entering the eye is not focused directly on the retina.

Nearsighted people see distant items as blurry, while nearby objects may remain clear, depending on the amount of myopia. Although eyeglasses and standard contact lenses can correct a person’s vision, they do not cure or slow down myopia’s progression.

When the amount of myopia increases at a rapid rate, such as over the course of just one year, it’s recommended that the deterioration be investigated by an eye doctor.

Myopia usually starts in childhood, and can increase when the eyeballs are rapidly growing. It can progress slowly or quickly, especially between the ages of 8 and 18, when it typically stabilizes.

The progression of myopia isn’t just about the need for stronger glasses; if myopia worsens, the child is more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal detachment later in life. These disorders can result in irreversible vision loss or blindness.

Treatments to Slow and Prevent Myopia Progression

While there is no cure for myopia, there are a number of treatments that can slow its progression and sometimes stop it completely in children and teenagers.

These treatments can cause changes in the shape and focusing of the eye, reducing the stress and fatigue that comes with nearsightedness.

There are three different specialized treatment options to slow the progression of myopia.

  • Orthokeratology (Ortho-k)
  • Atropine eye drops
  • Multifocal contact lenses

Our experts work directly with each family to create treatment plans for every child that are tailored to their specific needs. We thoroughly evaluate the child’s vision, prescribe the treatment most suited to them, and track their progress to ensure the best possible outcome. Follow-up visits are usually scheduled every 6-12 months to evaluate the treatment’s effectiveness.

Ortho-K/Orthokeratology

Ortho-k contact lenses are custom-fit contact lenses that are worn only at night and have been demonstrated to slow the progression of myopia by gently reshaping the cornea as the child sleeps. This allows the child to have clear vision the next morning, without needing eyewear because of the temporary change in corneal shape.

Atropine Drops

While commonly used to dilate the pupils during certain eye tests, a recent study published in Ophthalmology (2019) found that low-dose atropine eye drops (0.01%) applied before bedtime can successfully slow the progress of myopia in children.

Multifocal Lenses

Multifocal soft contact lenses, and multifocal glasses, provide clear vision at a variety of focal distances. The National Institutes of Health (2020) funded a clinical trial that compared multifocal lenses to single vision lenses. They found that using multifocal soft contact lenses or eyeglasses slows the progression of myopia.

Other ways to slow or prevent myopia

Outdoor activity and natural light

According to a recent study published by Ophthalmic Research (2020), children who spend more time outside (at least 14 hours per week) have less myopia and elongation of the eye than those who spend fewer hours outdoors.

Limited time on devices

Another study, published by PLOS One (2015), found a relationship between near-work activities and myopia progression. While more research is needed, various studies have found that excessive time spent on near-work activities like reading a book, using a computer and playing games on digital devices are linked to myopia. As a result, eye doctors recommend that parents keep track of and limit the amount of time their child spends on a phone or other digital devices.

If you’re worried about your child’s myopia, book a myopia management assessment to determine if they could benefit from this life-changing treatment. The age of the child, as well as their maturity level and lifestyle, will all play a role in determining when to begin myopia management.

Speak with Dr. Samuel C. Oliphant, who will advise you on the best myopia management treatment options for your child’s vision and lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Samuel C. Oliphant

Q: What is progressive myopia?

  • A: Progressive myopia is nearsightedness that worsens year after year. Severe myopia, also known as high myopia, can develop as a result of this trend, which can have significant consequences in adulthood.

Q: Can myopia lead to blindness?

  • A: Myopia in childhood has been linked to serious, vision-threatening eye conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration later in life. In addition, extreme myopia can progress to a stage known as degenerative myopia, which can result in significant loss of vision and even legal blindness.

How Much Time Should My Child Spend Outdoors?

child outdoor 640The benefits of outdoor play are well known. It allows children to exercise, socialize, develop skills like problem-solving and risk-taking and lets them soak up some vitamin D.

A lesser-known benefit of outdoor play is its effect on myopia (nearsightedness). Numerous studies have confirmed an association between increased “sun time” and lower levels of myopia.

Below, we’ll explore why this is and recommend ways to keep your child’s eyes healthy, whether or not they are nearsighted.

Why “Sun Time” Helps Control Myopia

While researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the exact reason, some believe that the sun’s intense brightness and increased vitamin D play a role. Others theorize that children who spend time looking into the distance while outdoors prevent myopia from progressing or even developing.

How Much Outdoor Time Is Recommended?

There isn’t a unanimous opinion on an exact amount of time, but the general recommendation is that children ages 6 and up should spend 2 or more hours outdoors per day.

It’s important to note that UV rays can be harmful to the eyes and skin. So before you send your little ones out to play, be sure to hand them a pair of UV-blocking [sunglasses], a wide-brimmed hat and sunblock lotion.

What Can Parents Do For Their Children’s Vision and Eye Health?

Encourage your children to spend time outdoors whenever possible. It is also important to follow local health guidelines pertaining to the exposure of children to sunlight. Limit their daily screen time, and offer minimal screen time (if any) to children under the age of 2.

Make sure your child takes frequent breaks whenever doing near work like homework, reading, and spending time on a digital screen. A 5-10 minute break should be encouraged for every hour of near work.

However, the best thing you can do for your myopic child is to provide them with myopia management treatments, all of which have been scientifically proven to reduce the progression of myopia and risk of sight-robbing eye diseases later in life.

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, call The Myopia Management Center at Advanced Family Eyecare today!

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Samuel C. Oliphant

Q: #1: What is myopia?

  • A: A: Myopia is the most common refractive error among children and young adults. It occurs when the eye elongates, and rays of light are focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it. For those with nearsightedness, distant objects appear blurred while nearby objects remain clear. Although eyeglasses and standard contact lenses can correct a person’s vision, they do not treat the underlying cause of myopia or slow its progression.

Q: #2: Why is myopia management important?

  • A: A: By 2050, half of the world’s population is expected to be diagnosed with myopia. That’s worrying because having myopia raises the risk of developing serious eye diseases later in life. Myopia management, which entails the use of eye drops, specialized contact lenses or multifocal glasses, can help slow the often rapid visual deterioration caused by myopia in children. If you’re concerned that your child’s vision is deteriorating, contact us today. We can help.



The Myopia Management Center at Advanced Family Eyecare serves patients from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, and Broken Arrow, all throughout Oklahoma.

 

The Myopia Management Center at Advanced Family Eyecare serves patients from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, and Broken Arrow, all throughout Oklahoma.

Why Myopia Is Much More Than An Inconvenience

Mom Daughter Child Eye HealthFor some parents, having a nearsighted child simply means frequent visits to the optometrist and regular eyewear purchases. But the truth is that nearsightedness (myopia) is more than an inconvenient eye condition that frequently requires correction.

Taking the short-sighted approach to myopia by simply updating a child’s lens prescription every year or two doesn’t help them in the long run.

Below, we explore the connection between myopia and eye disease, and how myopia management can help your child maintain healthy eyes throughout their life.

How Can Myopia Lead To Eye Disease?

Myopia is caused by the elongation of the eyeball. When the eyeball is too long, it focuses light in front of the retina instead of directly on it, causing blurry vision.

As childhood myopia progresses, the retina (the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye) stretches and strains, making the child more prone to serious eye diseases, including macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal detachment, in adulthood.

Having medium to high myopia (-3.00 to -6.00) also increases a child’s chances of developing cataracts fivefold, compared to a child with little to no myopia.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in adults around the world. Medium to high myopia makes a child 5 times more likely to develop this sight-threatening eye disease as an adult. Several studies have also shown that the higher the myopia, the greater the risk of developing glaucoma.

Retinal detachment is also heavily linked to childhood myopia. A child with low myopia (-1.00 to -3.00) is 4 times more likely to develop retinal detachment, while children with high myopia are 10 times more likely to suffer from retinal detachment.

Highly myopic children are also at a significantly greater risk of developing myopic macular degeneration — a rare condition where the retina thins so much, it begins to break down and atrophy, leading to visual impairment. This condition occurs in 10% of people with high myopia (-6.00 and higher).

The fact is that most parents aren’t aware of these risks. That’s why we’re here for any questions you or your child may have about myopia and how to slow its progression.

What Is Myopia Management?

Myopia management is an evidence-based treatment program that slows or halts the progression of myopia in children and young adults. These treatments reduce the ocular stress that contributes to the worsening of the child’s myopia.

Our optometric team will take the time to sit with you and your child to learn about their lifestyle and visual needs in order to choose the most suitable treatment.

Once a treatment plan is chosen, we will monitor your child’s myopia progression over a 6-12 month period to assess the plan’s effectiveness.

With myopia management, we bring your child’s future into focus.

To schedule your child’s myopia consultation, contact The Myopia Management Center at Advanced Family Eyecare today!

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Samuel C. Oliphant

Q: How old does my child have to be to begin myopia management?

  • A: Children as young as 8 years old can begin myopia management. In fact, children who are at risk of developing myopia or high myopia should ideally start before the age of 10 for optimal results, but it’s never too late to start! Either way, your optometrist will help determine whether your child is ready.

Q: Do children with very low myopia need myopia management?

  • A: Yes, definitely. Taking the ‘wait and see’ approach runs the risk of allowing your child’s prescription to rise as they grow older, increasing their risk of developing serious eye diseases in the long run.
The Myopia Management Center at Advanced Family Eyecare serves patients from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and surrounding communities.

 

 

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