Myopia Control: Are you worried about your kids’ nearsightedness getting worse & worse?
When I was a teenager, my optometrist never presented this as an option! Now, I make sure all my parents and kids can make informed choices.
Myopia has surged in prevalence over the past five decades. In 1971, 25% of Americans were myopic, compared to 33% in 2004. By 2050, the worldwide prevalence of myopia is projected to be 54%, and the prevalence of high myopia, the most severe form, is projected to increase to 10%. High myopia means that a person’s vision requires at least -5.00 diopters, the unit of focusing power correction required to optimize distance vision. Reasons for the spike are unclear, but evidence suggests that near work, such as screen time, and shrinking outdoor time during early eye development are contributing factors. Genetic factors also play a role in one’s predisposition to become myopic. There are no tests to identify which individuals with myopia will progress to high myopia, but the younger a child is affected, the more opportunity their myopia has to progress if there is no intervention to slow it.
6 ways we can slow down the progression of myopia:
1. Encourage more OUTDOOR PLAY: kids need at least 1 hour/day.
2. Limit use of digital devices after school and on weekends! Including video games!
3. Orthokeratology: These are overnight rigid gas permeable lenses that shape the eye while sleeping! Children who wore these lenses have a slower increase in axial length of their eyes by 43 percent, compared with kids who wore eyeglasses. $690 for exam and lenses.
4. Multifocal Contact Lenses are special lenses that have different powers in different zones of the lens, with the distance correction in the center. Total fees: Researchers and eye doctors are finding that multifocal soft contact lenses are effective tools for myopia control. $275 for exam and lenses. Some vision insurance plans cover the cost of the exam and lenses.
5. Multifocal Eyeglasses. We recommend no-line bifocals with high magnification. These lenses can slow down myopia slightly (.17D), but can also reduce eye fatigue and eye strain caused by reading and computer use. Some vision insurance plans cover the cost of standard progressives.
6. Atropine: .01% low dose atropine: 1 drop/day before bedtime, in both eyes is the most effective treatment for myopia control. Dr. Goldbum, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Albuquerque, recommends atropine for rapidly increasing myopia. Side effects are minimal. $272 for a year’s supply.