Nearsightedness (myopia) is when close-up objects look clear but distant objects are blurry. For instance, you can read a map clearly but have trouble seeing well enough to drive a car.
Nearsightedness is a common eye-focusing disorder that has been on the rise for several decades. It is estimated that by 2050 nearly half the people in the world will be nearsighted.
Young children with myopia may not complain about blurry vision, so eye exams and vision tests are important for them. Some are born nearsighted, while others don’t become nearsighted until their teen years.
Nearsightedness is often discovered in children when they are between 8 and 12 years old. During their teen years, when they are growing rapidly, myopia may worsen. Between the ages of 20 and 40, there is usually little change.
Too much time spent indoors increases a child’s risk for nearsightedness. Studies show that more time outdoors in natural light reduces their risk.
Doctors are looking at ways to slow the progression of myopia in children. While myopia cannot be reversed, the goal of treatment is to keep it from worsening. This can protect their eye health in the future, despite their still needing to wear glasses or contact lenses.
Some advanced treatment options that our clinic offers include:
Specialty Myopia Control Eyeglass Lenses
Special myopia management eyeglass lenses are a convenient method for treating progressive myopia in children. These lenses are designed for treating the progression of myopia and are the most comfortable solution for a young patient. Studies have shown that lenses specially designed for myopia management slow down the rate of myopia progression whereas standard eyeglass lenses have the potential to worsen a child’s myopic prescription!
Furthermore, lack of sunlight, more work in the near vision range and too much time indoors are also crucial factors in the emergence of myopia in children, it is recommended that kids spend more time outdoors – in addition to treatment with eyeglass lenses. Studies have shown that myopia is less common or progresses less quickly in children who are frequently outside. It has been proven that children enjoy better results by combining myopia management treatments with a healthy lifestyle – including breaks from digital devices like smartphones and tablets!
Low-dose atropine eye drops
You may be familiar with atropine eye drops. They are used to widen your pupils during an eye exam. When given to children in small amounts for two to three years, the drops may slow the progression of myopia. Low-dose atropine for myopia is used for children between 5- and 18- years old. The drops are placed in the eye each night at bedtime. Side-effects of atropine drops at low doses may include redness or itchiness around the eye.
Peripheral defocus contact lenses
These special contact lenses are worn by children 6-12 years of age with myopia. This ‘multifocal’ contact lens has different areas of focus. Think of this type of lens as looking like a dartboard, with multiple circles inside each other. The center of the lens, or ‘bullseye’, corrects blurry distance vision while the outer portions of the lens ’defocuses’ or blurs the child’s peripheral (side) vision. This blurring of peripheral vision is thought to slow eye growth and limit myopia.
Like any contact lens, there is a risk of corneal infection. Be sure your child can correctly wear, clean, and store their contact lenses to avoid infection.