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What is Myopia and why do we need to control it?

myopia control

What is Myopia and why do we need to control it?

Many parents have most likely heard of the term ‘Myopia Control’ in the recent past. You might be wondering what is myopia and why do we need to control it? Myopia, commonly known as near-sightedness, is a vision condition that affects about 30% of the population. This condition usually only affects the distance vision, depending on how high the prescription is, the near vision is not affected. The condition commonly begins at the age of six years old. Recent studies show that myopia is becoming more common in children and the rate of progression is increasing. In this post we will go over the physiological effects of myopia on the eyes, the theories behind why incidence of myopia is increasing, and different options for preventing the progression of myopia.

The reason vision is reduced in distance for those with myopia is because the object is not focused on the retina, and instead is focused in front of the retina. However, myopia can be divided into two different categories, refractive and axial. Axial myopia is the more common of the two types. Studies show that there is an autoregulation process that manages axial length during growth and development. If this process is not controlled properly, the axial length can grow out of proportion and cause complications. Some of the complications include retinal detachment and glaucoma. As the eye gets longer, it can become more prone to retinal tears and ultimately retinal detachments. Also higher myopes are at a greater risk for glaucoma.

For many years studies have been done to get answers as to why myopia incidence is increasing and why it’s progressing. One of the earliest theories was that near work could be the leading cause, especially because more children are using digital devices. However the CLEERE Study Group showed that this was not the causative factor for myopia. But more recently another environmental factor that has been found to be associated with myopia is outdoor time. Results showed that by increasing time spent outdoors, the risk of developing myopia is decreased in children under the age of 20. It is recommended that children spend two hours outdoors per day to reduce the risk of myopia.

If a child starts to develop myopia due to a genetic predisposition, there are a few treatment options to prevent the progression. Two treatments that have shown to be the most promising for reducing the progression of myopia and slowing axial length growth are orthokeratology and multifocal contact lenses. Orthokeratology is the use of Rigid Gas Permeable or RGP’s during the night to ‘mold’ the cornea to where the user does not require glasses or contact lenses during the day. The effects last throughout the day. Another method of reducing progression is multifocal contact lenses. MiSight is currently the only brand of contact lenses that is FDA approved for the use of myopia control. Even though the RGP’s are worn overnight and the multifocal soft contact lenses are worn during the day, both these treatment methods require the patient to be seen by an optometrist to be fit for the contact lenses.

If your child is myopic make sure they are seen by an optometrist to find out if they are a good candidate for myopia control.

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