For many children who are nearsighted, the annual visit to the eye doctor means a stronger prescription. Myopia tends to progress rapidly in adolescence, and many parents wonder if there is a cure, or a way to prevent their children’s eyesight from worsening. This is where myopia control comes into play. Recent studies have shown that there are several effective methods to reduce the progression of myopia. These options go beyond glasses or contact lenses that correct for nearsightedness. Instead, they change the optical system of the eye, and can prevent further development of myopia. Research has been focused on four main methods of myopia control. Read on to learn more about these treatment methods.
Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is a common and effective methods of myopia control involves the overnight wear of a gas-permeable contact lens that gently reshape the corneal surface. In doing so, these lenses temporarily correct myopia so that no glasses or contact lenses are needed during the day. Each lens is specially ordered and modified to ensure precise corneal reshaping and provide accurate treatment. These lenses do more than eliminate the need for corrective lenses during the day; several studies have suggested that consistent treatment with orthokeratology may reduce future progression of myopia. Orthokeratology is an excellent option for child athletes who want clear vision without the hassle of optical correction.
Multifocal contact lenses were originally designed to address presbyopia and eliminate the need for reading glasses in older contact lens wearers. Now, they have a purpose in myopia control. These lenses have different zones with different prescription powers that adjust how images optically enter the eye. As a result, these lenses can relax the eye’s focusing system and help prevent myopic progression. Unlike ortho-k, this method of myopia control uses soft lenses worn throughout the day. While it does not eliminate the daily need for vision correction, it has been shown to be almost equally as effective in reducing progression of nearsightedness.
Another treatment approach for myopia control is atropine eye drops, though this method has become less popular in recent years. These eye drops paralyze the eye’s focusing system as well as dilate the eye. While this is an effective method of stopping myopic progression, it comes with a number of side effects. Drawbacks such as blurry near vision, light sensitivity, and discomfort upon drop instillation make it a less appealing option for many individuals. Additionally, it does not eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses throughout the day. Bifocal glasses have also been used as a method of myopia control. Similar to multifocal contact lenses, these spectacles allow the eye’s focusing system to relax when looking at close objects. However, several studies have found that bifocal glasses are less effective in reducing myopic progression than multifocal contact lenses or orthokeratology. As such, they are a less commonly used treatment method.
Nearsightedness is more than a daily annoyance; it is a legitimate health risk. High amounts of nearsightedness carry an increased risk for a number of ocular pathologies, including early cataracts and retinal detachment. Myopia control not only improves quality of life, it helps promote healthy eyes.