October 7, 2020
You probably know myopia better as nearsightedness, another name for this incredibly common refractive eye condition. Myopia is associated with clear vision when an object is close to your face, but at distance, your vision is blurred. It’s a refractive eye condition, which means that it is caused by a problem with the way that light is refracted when it enters the eye. In order to see clearly, light needs to pass through the eye and be refracted onto the cells at the back of the eye, called the retina. In patients with myopia, the light is refracted in front rather than onto the retina directly, and this is what causes blurred vision.
Myopia is one of the leading reasons for people to wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, which can successfully be used to alter the angle of refraction so that the light reaches the retina. So, if treatment is available, why is myopia management important?
Myopia usually starts to develop at some point between 8 and 13 years old, during which the eyes go through a period of rapid growth. Although not all children will develop myopia, the prevalence of the condition in children has increased dramatically during the last half-century. This is thought to be at least partially due to the amount of time that children and teenagers spend using digital devices, which has also risen significantly, particularly during the last decade. Not enough time spent outdoors in natural light is thought to be a contributor to the development of myopia too, and since most gaming takes place inside, it makes sense that both of these occurrences may be behind the rise in the number of children being diagnosed with myopia.
Myopia control prevents the progression of myopia through treatments that slow down the lengthening of the eye in children and teenagers so that their myopia doesn’t continue to worsen as dramatically as it could. In some cases, myopia management has been shown to stop the progression of myopia altogether. Studies suggest that halting the progression of myopia could impact the lives of as many as 42 million children in the United States.
Through myopia control, it is possible to not only halt the progression of myopia but also reduce the risks that are associated with high myopia which may otherwise affect your child in the future. High myopia makes patients more likely to suffer from potentially sight-threatening conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinal detachment. By opting for myopia management, you can help preserve the long-term vision of your child.
Candidates for myopia management are those patients whose eyes are still developing and growing and who have already been diagnosed with the condition, however mild. The earlier that myopia management treatment begins, the less impact myopia will have on your child’s long-term vision and eye health.
Children and adolescence who are believed to be at high risk of developing high myopia are also considered to be particularly good candidates for management. This includes children where one or both parents have moderate to severe myopia, or who had myopia diagnosed early on. Children of parents who have gone on to develop complications from their myopia – including early-onset macular degeneration and retinal detachment – should also strongly consider myopia management.
There is a range of different options for myopia management, including atropine eye drops, multifocal glasses or contact lenses, and corneal reshaping therapies like orthokeratology. If you are concerned about your child’s vision and would like more information about myopia management, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our friendly and knowledgeable eye care team in Midtown East, New York, NY.