What is Myopia?

Nearsightedness, or myopia, as it is medically termed, is a vision condition in which close objects are seen clearly, but objects further away appear blurred. Nearsightedness occurs if the eyeball is too long. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused correctly and distant objects look blurred. It is the most common visual complaint amongst children and young adults.


Until relatively recently there has been no scientifically proven way of reducing the progression (worsening) of myopia. It has been long understood that genetics and environment play a role but the mechanism of myopia progression has now had some clarification in research conducted internationally. It has been shown that where the light focuses in the periphery (side) of the retina has a strong influence on the progression of myopia.

 

  • What can be done?

    Since there is now a greater understanding of the mechanism of myopia progression, researchers have been looking at options for altering this peripheral focus in an attempt to develop options to control (slow) myopia progression. This research has lead to the following three options currently being available for myopia control:

  • Orthokeratology

    Orthokeratology uses individually custom designed corneal molds/retainers worn during sleep. They reversibly reshape the cornea (front of the eye) to correct myopia, so no visual correction is required during the day. Due to the reshaping effect on the cornea, they recreate the ideal optical properties required for myopia control. This is currently the best option for myopia control. Studies show a 50% slowing in the progression of myopia.

  • Soft Contact Lenses

    These disposable soft multifocal contact lenses have been shown to give a similar amount of myopia control as orthokeratology. As with standard disposable contact lenses they are worn during waking hours. They do not correct myopia like orthokeratology. These lenses have the ability to reduce progression by almost 50%.

  • Spectacle Lenses

    Spectacle lenses designed in Australia have been specifically designed to reduce myopia progression. The effect on myopia progression is not as large as the previous options but these lenses have been shown to reduce myopia progression by 30% in some groups.

    If you would like to discuss your options for myopia control further please contact one of our friendly team at Visique Rose optometrists. We would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of each method on an individual basis as each patient may suit a different option.

    It is important to realise that to get the greatest benefit myopia control, treatment should be continued until the eye stops growing altogether (often in the early twenties). After that time myopia control options may no longer be required as the eye naturally stabilises.

  • Atropine

    Atropine is a topical drop that has been shown to be effective at halting myopia from progressing in normal strengths, this is typically 1%, however it comes with side effects, these can include blurring, dilated pupils and stinging of vision.

    There is currently a growing amount of research to test whether lower (safer) concentrations also are effective in controlling myopia. Your optometrist may be best to discuss the use of this medication in myopia control. This medication is instilled nightly and must be made by a compounding pharmacy. It is available via your prescription from your therapeutically qualified optometrist.


 

Summary

Myopia control is a very exciting new area of optometry and we have spent a great deal of time at conferences and reviewing the literature related to myopia control. Thanks to recent scientific research we now have several options available to us as outlined above. We would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of each method on an individual basis as each patient may suit a different option.

All myopia control options carry an associated cost that is higher than standard contact lenses or spectacles. It is important to realise that to get the greatest benefit myopia control treatment should be continued until the eye stops growing altogether (often in the early twenties). After that time myopia control options may no longer be required as the eye naturally stabilises. For more information on myopia control we recommend Dr Richard Anderson’s website: www.myopiaprevention.org

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