Myopia is an eye condition commonly known as short-sightedness and affects the ability to see distant objects clearly. It usually starts to develop in children between 6 and 13 years old and progresses as the eyeball grows. The rate of progression usually starts to slow down at around 18-20 years of age. If both parents are myopic, their child has a 50% chance of becoming short-sighted.
Around a third of people in the UK are myopic and there has been a steady increase in the western world over the past ten years. By 2050 it is estimated that 50% of the world’s population will be myopic.
Why is this a problem?
Apart from causing visual difficulties, myopia can cause health problems in later years. A highly myopic person can be more susceptible to eye conditions such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and myopic maculopathy which causes loss of the central vision. It has been found in studies that by reducing the myopic progression of a child’s prescription by only 1.00D, it is possible to reduce the chance of these conditions by 40%. We, therefore, have a lot to gain in trying to slow myopic progression in children.
How can we do this?
A large number of studies on myopia management have been performed worldwide. These have proven that some treatments can successfully reduce myopic progression in children and these techniques are now being adopted in the UK.
All forms of treatment are designed to discourage the elongation of the eyeball. The science behind the progression of myopia indicates that the eye grows longer to try to put the peripheral parts of the retina into focus, even though the central retina is clear when wearing spectacles or standard contact lenses. By changing the peripheral focus with these methods, it helps slow the growth and results in a reduced prescription and shorter eyeball length.
What is the solution?
Two different forms of contact lens correction have been found to have a 50% success rate in slowing the progression of Myopia and both treatments are currently available at Webb, Lucas & Stubbs Optometrists in Stafford.
The first, Orthokeratology, involves the patient sleeping in a hard contact lens at night to gently change the front curvature of the cornea to correct the patient’s vision. When a patient wears this form of correction, they are contact lens and spectacle free during the day and this has proved safe and popular with our active children who enjoy sport. (Find our blog on Ortho-K here)
The second option available is a new generation of soft contact lenses specifically designed for myopia management. The most popular of these is CooperVision’s MiSight design, this is a daily disposable contact lens, giving wearers optimum convenience and safety. MiSight lenses are worn most of the day for at least six days of the week and have been popular with children who would prefer the comfort of a soft contact lens.
Can the treatment be done with spectacles?
2021 saw the launch of a revolutionary new spectacle lens developed in Hong Kong with an impressive 60% success rate in reducing myopic progression. The new Hoya MiYoSmart spectacle lens uses a similar optical correction to the contact lens methods above and has produced encouraging results from a two-year study.
As with all these treatments, the correction is designed to be in place most of the day and treatment can be started as soon as our optometrists can see evidence of a shifting myopic prescription. Myopia management is recommended to continue until the eye starts to slow its growth, which is usually at around 18 to 20 years of age.
We have formulated care plans at our practice to enable parents to take advantage of these treatments at a more affordable cost and to help with the ongoing treatment and care.
At Webb, Lucas & Stubbs Optometrists we are very excited about the growing number of options and choices we now have to offer children in order to help give the best possible sight for the future. Book an appointment with our Optometrists if you would like to establish whether your child would benefit from myopia management and to find out more about the best options available for their sight.