What is Myopia, And Why Is It Important?

Myopia is the medical term for nearsightedness, which describes a mismatch between the length of the eye and the focal point of the vision.  People with myopia generally need prescription eyewear to see at further distances.  However, myopia is much more than just needing glasses or contact lenses to see clearly.

There has been an alarming increase in the rate of myopia in children, which not only affects quality of life, but can pose serious risks for ocular health later in life.  Myopia is generally a progressive condition in which the eye elongates increasingly over time, which progressively weakens the structures of the eye (such as the retina).

Myopia is associated with increased risk of conditions like glaucoma, retinal detachments, myopic macular degeneration, and many other conditions.  Since children generally become more myopic each year, the risks of these diseases increase as the myopia increases.

What Causes Myopia?

Myopia can be caused by genetic and environmental factors.  The chances of a child developing myopia are significantly higher if one or both parents are myopic.  However, there is still a 25% chance that a child will develop myopia even if neither parent has myopia.  Our modern lifestyle has also been shown to increase the onset and progression of myopia.

What is Myopia Control?

The good news is that now, researchers have found several very effective ways to slow the progression of myopia and therefore reduce the risk of sight-threatening diseases.  This type of treatment is called myopia management, or myopia control.  Many studies have shown myopia control to be a safe and effective treatment for children.  Myopia control is also supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Optometric Association, and American Academy of Ophthalmology.

We use several evidence-based treatment options for myopia control.  These include specialty daily wear soft contact lenses, specialty nighttime contact lenses (orthokeratology or ortho-k), and daily eye drops.  There are many factors to consider when selecting a myopia control method, and we carefully consider your child’s specific needs to determine the best fit for their myopia treatment.

When Should We Start Myopia Control?

Myopia often develops between the ages of 6 and 12, and typically worsens for several years once it starts.  Myopia can continue to worsen until the late teen years, early 20’s, or even early 30’s, depending on the person.

Research shows that myopia typically progresses the fastest under the age of 12.  Early age onset of myopia also means that there will be more years overall for the myopia to increase.  Since children under the age of 12 tend to worsen the fastest, it is important to start sooner rather than later for younger children.  Acting quickly will give us the biggest impact on slowing myopia progression and reducing the final amount of myopia your child ends up with.

Where Can I Find Out More?

If you would like to know if your child is a candidate for myopia control treatment, please call our office to schedule a comprehensive examination or myopia consultation.

For more information on myopia control, you can visit mykidsvision.org or allaboutvision.com