What is Myopia?
Myopia, also called nearsightedness, is the inability to see things clearly unless they are relatively close to your eyes. Distant objects will appear blurry while near objects will remain clear. Symptoms may include squinting, eye strain and headaches. Typically, myopia begins during childhood and progresses rapidly, unless treated. Juvenile-onset progressive myopia occurs when a child’s prescription continually worsens and can dramatically increase the risk of developing serious vision problems later in life. Early intervention with myopia treatment is crucial to help slow down the progression of your child’s myopia.
Causes of Myopia
Myopia occurs when the eye grows too long, causing light to focus in front of the retina instead of directly on it. It can also be caused by the cornea or lens being too curved for the length of the eyeball. Sometimes, myopia may be due to a combination of these two factors. We expect the eye to grow during childhood, but this growth occurs at a faster rate in myopic children, leading to stronger glasses every year. There are several theories on the etiology of myopia development. It is widely accepted that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved, including decreased time outdoors and increased screen time on devices.
The Myopia Epidemic
The percentage of children with myopia, or nearsightedness, continues to rise. 1 in 3 children are currently believed to be affected. By 2050, myopia is expected to affect at least 5 billion people worldwide. The rates have already climbed to 80-90% in some parts of Asia. Although the exact cause for this is unknown, many researchers believe reduced outdoor time and increased screen time may be partially responsible. This is of great concern, as myopia can often lead to struggles in school, as well as increased risk of serious eye disease. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO), has added myopia to their agenda of significant concerns.
The greater the myopia, the higher the risks of serious eye diseases.
Glasses can only compensate for your child’s blurry vision. They do not stop their vision from worsening. The good news is that we now have treatment options to slow the progression of your child’s myopia, which will decrease their likelihood of developing conditions such as retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, cataract, and glaucoma later in life. Research has drastically advanced over the past ten years or so. The use of overnight contact lenses, soft multifocal daytime contact lenses and pharmaceutical therapy have proven effective in halting the progression of myopia. The younger your child is and the earlier we intervene, the greater the impact we will have in minimizing the impact of myopia on your child’s life.
Overnight Sight is an FDA-approved vision therapy that delivers clear, comfortable vision without glasses, daytime contact lenses or surgery. Overnight Sight is known by several names: Orthokeratology, Ortho-K, Corneal Reshaping Therapy, Corneal Refractive Therapy and others. Before going to bed, Overnight Sight patients put on custom therapeutic lenses that correct their blurry vision while they sleep by gently reshaping the surface of their eyes. Once they wake up, they remove the lenses and enjoy a full day of clarity. You can think of Overnight Sight like an orthodontic retainer for eyeballs. Anyone who desires freedom from daytime contact lenses or glasses is often interested in Overnight Sight. But people who are myopic – or nearsighted – can benefit from this therapy the most. Overnight Sight is an FDA-approved therapy for all ages that is non-invasive, non-surgical, safe and effective.
Dr. William H. Stephen is FDA-certified in Corneal Refractive Therapy and is an International Academy of Orthokeratology Fellow. All five of Dr. Stephen’s children were victims of progressive myopia, and all reached high myopic prescriptions of -8.00 diopters or more by age 18. Overnight Sight was not an option when his children were young, so they all wore traditional glasses and contact lenses while their vision was developing. In an effort to prevent other children from losing their vision and defeat progressive myopia, Dr. Stephen is proud to present Overnight Sight to his patients.
Multifocal soft contact lenses are worn in the same way as regular, daytime contacts. These custom contact lenses have an altered peripheral focus that helps slow down the progression of myopia. By altering how your child focuses at near and intermediate distances, soft multifocal lenses can be used to halt the elongation of the eye, which is the mechanism responsible for myopia progression. This treatment allows your child to be free of glasses during the day while providing optimal comfort and clear vision.
Recently, Coopervision announced the release of a daily wear, single use contact lens called MiSight 1 Day that has been clinically proven and FDA-approved to slow the progression of myopia (nearsightedness) when initially prescribed for children 8-12 years old.
Atropine eye drops are commonly used to dilate the pupils, but data has also shown that it can slow down the progression of myopia at very low concentrations. Recent research by the ATOM1, ATOM2 and FANG studies have shown promising results. The data suggests a significant reduction of myopia (50-60%) with low doses of atropine that produce almost no noticeable side effects. These drops are typically applied at night before bed according to the schedule that your doctor recommends. Your child will still need to wear contacts or glasses during the day, as the atropine drops do not correct vision. This treatment modality is often used for younger children or when parents feel their child may not be ready for a contact lens treatment yet.