One of the most common vision issues found in children is myopia, also known as nearsightedness. It’s characterized by the ability to see clearly at a short distance, but a child’s vision becomes blurry and fuzzy as they look farther into the distance. One of the best ways to get an idea of what a child with myopia sees is to use an interactive vision simulator like this one. By using the sliding bar at the bottom, you can replicate the amount of vision distortion different degrees of myopia can cause. While it may be possible to manage daily life comfortably with a slight degree of myopia, it’s easy to see how quickly the world disappears into a puffy blob when the condition progresses.
And it is a progressive condition – and one that cannot be reversed once it begins. For many children, myopia is first diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 7 years of age, typically when they are preparing for school. Often, a child’s distance vision continues to deteriorate until about age 12, when the period of their rapid eye growth ends. On average, approximately 20% of children were diagnosed with myopia by their optometrist 30 years ago, but believe it or not, approximately 40% of American children are living with the condition right now. The significant surge in the number of myopic children is not fully understood, but studies do point to several possibilities. A recent study in Singapore encouraged children to spend 40 extra minutes outdoors daily. The children in the study lowered their risk of getting myopia or developing more severe myopia (a stronger prescription). The kids who spent more time inside, reading, or using electronic devices were more likely to develop myopia or a more severe form of the condition. Also, genetics do play a factor, with myopia running in families.
Those with myopia are also at greater risk for other eye conditions as they age, such as retinal holes and retinal detachments. It's important to realize that while myopia is progressive and there is no cure, it’s possible to use the latest treatments available from your eye doctor to control the advancement of the condition. Called myopia management, there are several different ways to help slow – or even stop – the progression of your child’s myopia before it worsens. First, be sure to take your child to your optometrist at least once a year in early childhood, when a vision test can spot the first signs of myopia. The earlier the condition is found, the easier it will be to preserve a higher quality of vision.
MiSight® contact lenses are an exciting new FDA-approved technology developed for children between the ages of 8 and 12. These disposable daily wear lenses are designed not only to correct nearsightedness they’re also the first and only soft contact lenses proven to slow the progression of myopia. Because the lenses do both of these things at the same time, they’re a one-stop shop for children who can wear them. And most children adapt easily, with 90% of wearers preferring them strongly over their glasses after using them for three years. After a vision exam and a professional fitting, many children as young as 8 years of age can handle the lenses confidently on their own – which parents love!
Studies on MiSight® lenses show that over the course of a three-year wear period, myopia progression slowed by 59% on average, with 41% of wearers showing no signs of progression at all. Not all contact lenses will have the same results. Studies by MiSight® over a three-year period showed that 41% of the children wearing their lenses had reduced progression of their myopia, while none of the children wearing regular soft contact lenses did.
Another popular option for myopia control is the use of atropine eye drops. Usually taken at bedtime, the drops can significantly slow the progression of myopia in children, helping to preserve maximum visual acuity. The popularity of this solution is growing, based on dramatic results. About 90 percent of the children discover their rate of myopia progression decreases or slows by about half. The sooner they start using the medication, the less nearsighted they’ll be as adults.
The treatment is also popular because it has next to no side effects. About 1 percent of children report slight redness or itching in or around the eye area. Current research also shows that once atropine treatment stops, myopia progression will begin again. It’s crucial to establish a diagnosis as early as possible and use atropine consistently through the time of rapid eye growth.
For parents who are reluctant to try a contact lens for their child, or for prescriptions that fall outside of the range of contact lenses, atropine drops can help prevent the progression of myopia, but their child will still need to wear glasses to correct the existing deficiencies. Each family will need to weigh the pros and cons of the treatments to decide which would be a better fit for their lifestyle.
Call Pro-Optix Eye Care at 713-360-7095 today to set up a consultation with your premier Houston eye doctor. We can review the benefits of myopia management as they relate to your specific needs and show you how your child can benefit from the lifelong gift of better vision!