This information is important for:
parents of children with myopia,
young adults with myopia, and also
parents who are myopic themselves and are interested in what they can do to manage their child’s risk of developing myopia.
What is myopia control?
Myopia control means taking an active approach to yours or your child’s shortsightedness (myopia), by looking at what can be done to slow down the progressive worsening of vision over time, rather than just accepting that nothing can be done about the increase in prescription every few months. There are many options to look at depending on your child’s myopia profile (see below). This is important for children, young adults working in computer-based jobs (including University students), and children of myopic parents who are at risk of either developing or worsening myopia.
Are you short sighted?
A child with two myopic parents is at a six times greater risk of becoming myopic than a child with no myopic parents. A child with one myopic parent is at three times greater risk. This can be true even if you (the parent) didn’t become myopic as a child. Myopia can occur without any family history, though – just ask Kate, our myopic Optometrist!
Why is my child’s vision getting worse?
Aside from family history, there are two main theories demonstrated by scientific research to be linked to the development and progression (worsening) of myopia.
Relative peripheral optics. In a myopic person, the central focus part of the retina is myopic, but the peripheral retina is actually hyperopic, or longsighted. This is the opposite to children who are not myopic, whose eyes may have a normal central focus but show a myopic peripheral focus. When we correct vision with normal glasses or contact lenses, we correct central vision, but we push the peripheral image back behind the retina again (Image bottom left). It has been shown in animal research that a focus behind the retinal plane eye growth back to that focus –> the eye gets bigger –> more myopia. Some new spectacle and contact lens designs aim to reverse detrimental peripheral optics so that the peripheral focus is on, or in front of, the retina – just as for a normally sighted child whose vision isn’t worsening. (image bottom right) There is conjecture as to how much of a factor this is in humans, but treatments for myopia control utilizing this theory have shown some success.
Errors of eye teaming. Eye teaming and coordination describes how the eyes work together to focus swiftly from far-to-close, close-to-far, and maintain correct focus on an object. In children this is especially important for reading and learning, as even children with perfect vision can have disorders of eye teaming which can slow down their ability to learn. In myopic children, or children of myopic parents, there are two specific ways in which eye coordination can ‘misbehave’ which have been shown in research to be a risk factor for worsening of myopia. There are also some treatments for myopia control which use this theory.
How can I take an active approach to my / my child’s myopia?
Parents can feel frustrated and powerless when every visit to the Optometrist reveals their child’s vision has worsened. It is common for children to worsen once or twice per year. Doing something active means:
1. Understanding your child’s myopia profile.
This involves full assessment of your child’s eye teaming and coordination and management of any evident risk factors.
2. Discussing the best type of vision correction for your child.
Glasses, contact lenses and eye exercises (or any combination of these) can be used to halt the development or slow the worsening of myopia.
3. Get advice on the latest research.
Our Optometrists will discuss lifestyle factors and give recommendations on visual tasks which could be beneficial, while also describing those which are harmful to your child’s visual development.
Glasses | Contact Lenses | Eye Exercises – which is best?
If you are myopic but your child is not, eye exercises or glasses may be necessary to allow their best vision for learning, while also reducing risk of future myopia.
Once a child becomes myopic they require glasses or contact lenses for clear vision. The best option involves discussion with and recommendations from our Optometrists in view of your child’s myopia profile. Recommendations may involve changes to habits or vision training (eye exercises).
Putting the brakes on shortsightedness (myopia)
Myopia control is the area of science dedicated to slowing down or stopping the progression, or worsening, of myopia in children and young adults. The following table is a compilation of over 30 research papers on myopia control, published up to and including 2013.
What is Ortho-K (orthokeratology)?
Ortho-K (orthokeratology) involves wearing specially designed rigid lenses while sleeping, which are removed on immediately on waking. The lenses use your tears to gently reshape the surface of your eye so you can enjoy clear vision all day long without the need for glasses or other contact lenses. OrthoK is suitable for children and adults, and has been shown to slow the progression of myopia by 32-75%, and in some recent research, even entirely stop the worsening of vision over short periods of up to a year. (100% effect). We are known for our expertise in OrthoK and have fit over 600 children and adults with OrthoK, over a period of almost 20 years.
Our Optometrists are renowned for their expertise in myopia control, contact lenses and eye teaming, and have spoken at national and international conferences on these topics. We look forward to discussing your / your child’s best options, explaining your / their myopia profile, and describing the latest in myopia research with you.