Myopia is the next great challenge for optometrists as by 2050 it is predicted that 50% of Australian's will be myopic. Studies have linked increasing myopia to increased risk of developing eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal detachments. Reducing your child's myopia will reduce your child's dependency on glasses or contact lenses as well as providing greater health benefits.
What is myopia?
Myopia, also known as known as short-sightedness, is an eye condition which results in difficulty with seeing things in the distance.
As a child grows, the individual components of the eye must grow in unison so that images are focused correctly on the retina. In a short-sighted eye, images are focused in front of the retina, causing blur. Shortsightedness is often caused by the eye being more elongated than it should be.
Why does this occur?
Some factors that contribute to myopia are genetics and environmental.
If one parent is myopic, the chance of the child developing myopia is 3 times as high, and if both parents are myopic, the chance is 6 times higher. However, a child whose parents are not myopic can also develop myopia because of environmental factors such as lack of time spent outdoors or regularly reading or viewing screens up close.
In this digital era, we have seen an increased dependence on technology impact our lifestyle, whereby children are spending less time outdoors and more time looking at digital screens. As a result of this, we are seeing a growing number of children developing myopia at an earlier age with higher levels of myopia.
It is predicted that up to 55% of Australians will be short-sighted by 2050.
The dangers of myopia
As the eye continues to elongate and stretch, the level of myopia increases with the risk of damage and disease. Below are some of the associated risks which can lead to loss of vision.
My child wears glasses… won’t that help?
Conventional glasses will help your child see better but will not help slow down the progression of myopia. We have found that dual-focus contact lenses, atropine eye drops and orthokeratology (ortho-k) are the most effective methods for slowing down myopia progression.
How can we slow down myopia?
Studies suggest that the peripheral retina plays an important role in the onset and progression of myopia.
Conventional glasses and contact lenses produce a clear image on the central retina but, due to the shape of the eye, they produce a blurred image on the peripheral retina. This peripheral hyperopic defocus has been shown to be a strong signal for the eye to elongate and become myopic.
Ortho-k, atropine eye drops as well as myopia control spectacle lenses and soft control lenses have been shown to reduce this signal for eye elongation. For more information on how each is used to treat myopia, please click on the links above.