Myopia, or nearsightedness is becoming extremely common in children today. It is estimated to affect about 42 million children in the U.S. Often, myopia in children can worsen year after year. This change can be very upsetting to both parents and children. Often we hear questions like: “Will it ever stop?” or “Will it get so bad that they can’t see with glasses or contact lenses?”
In addition to the angst it can cause to the young patient, the changes to the structure of the eye become alarming. Studies show that the progression of myopia causes the retina to stretch due to the lengthening of the eye. This greatly increases the risk of retinal tear and detachment. We at Bowman Optometry are concerned about the potential risk and recommend that parents consider one of these following options to try to stem the tide of myopic progression.
Corneal Reshaping Therapy
Corneal Reshaping Therapy (CRT), also known as accelerated orthokeratology, is a non-surgical treatment method to reduce myopia. This method uses a specially designed gas permeable lens to flatten the shape of the cornea overnight while the patient is asleep. The lenses are removed in the morning so the patient is free of correction during the day. This flattening will reduce the myopia on a day to day basis. This corneal reshaping process can sometimes take several days to reach full effect and must be done every day since the flattening effect is temporary. Because the elasticity or flexibility of the cornea can vary from one patient to the other the effect cannot be guaranteed.
Research from this modality suggests that CRT does have some effect on reducing the lengthening of the eye itself. This would indicate that it may provide a more permanent or lasting effect, even if the lenses are discontinued in adulthood.
Soft Lens Multifocal Contact Lenses
The use of specially designed multifocal contact lenses has been shown in numerous studies to help limit progression when compared to single vision soft contact lenses. Some studies report a 30 to 50% reduction in progression.
The theory behind this method of therapy is called peripheral defocusing. By focusing light in front of the peripheral retina, the elongation of the eye greatly slows down, thus slowing down the Rx changes. These lenses have to be worn a minimum amount of time every day to achieve the maximum effect.
A five-year study in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science produced findings indicating that children who had both myopic parents had less progression when fitted with progressive multifocal glasses than children who were prescribed single vision lenses. The consistency of this method is not quite as reliable as the above two methods, but is a good alternative if the child is contact lens intolerant or has a preference for glasses.
See Us For a Consultation
If you are concerned about your child becoming more nearsighted, call us to schedule a comprehensive eye examination. We can evaluate the progression of their myopia and discuss what course of treatment would be most beneficial.