Is Your Family Nearsighted?
Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, is a common type of refractive error where close objects appear clearly, and distant objects appear blurry. In addition to weakening vision, the physical structure of the eye also changes. Myopia can steepen the front surface of the eye (cornea) and/or stretch the retina (axial elongation) – both of which can increase the risk of future eye diseases.
Nearsightedness Can Affect Both Children and Adults
The condition currently affects about 25 percent of Americans, and is most often diagnosed in children between 8 and 12 years of age and may worsen during teen years. It is predicted by year 2050, 50 percent of the U.S. population will be myopic.
You may be at higher risk for developing myopia and have faster progression of myopia if there’s:
- Family history of myopia
- Early onset of myopia
- Environmental factors such as increased near work-like computer use
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Nearsightedness?
- Difficulty seeing distant objects, such as highway signs
Earlier the better. It’s better to start myopia control when patients are first developing myopia. A basic eye exam can confirm nearsightedness. It is very important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam annually to help ensure that your eyes are healthy and without any cause for concern.
Myopia Control Options
Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is a non-surgical procedure that helps eliminate or decrease dependency for glasses or contacts during the day. It works by gently reshaping the curvature of the eye using specially designed contacts while you sleep. It has been shown to be safe and effective in correcting nearsightedness. Studies have also shown that it can slow the progression of nearsightedness. Orth-K can provide results in a surprisingly short period of time.
Distance Center Multifocal Soft Contact Lenses
Distance Center Multifocal Soft Contact Lenses are worn exactly the same way as regular soft contact lenses. An optical “trick” in the center of the lens has been shown in several studies to slow down the progression of myopia. This method is rapidly gaining in popularity. Please ask your optometrist which brand would be the best fit for you.
In the U.S., 40 percent of children have myopia today, compared to 20 percent just 30 years ago. Research shows that kids who are exposed to less outdoor daylight in early childhood are more likely to become myopic. Studies show that a low-dose of atropine, typically given as eye drops at bedtime, can significantly slow the progression of myopia in children, preventing severe nearsightedness. It already has several uses in eye care, such as dilating the pupil and treating lazy eye.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Should Consider Myopia Control Treatment Options?
You should consider myopia control treatment options if your nearsightedness is getting worse year after year, if you have family history of nearsightedness, or if you started wearing glasses at a young age.
Are Children Good Candidates?
Studies from around the world have indicated that Ortho-K, multifocal contacts, and atropine treatments can keep children’s nearsightedness from getting worse. It’s better for children to start myopia control treatments early. Children are especially good candidates for Ortho-K if they have a tendency to lose or abuse their contact lenses and glasses, or if wearing them interferes with their daily activities such as swimming or playing sports.
How Does Ortho-K Work?
Ortho-K works by gently reshaping the front curvature of your eye using a specially designed contact lens while you sleep. In addition to gaining great vision during the day without the need for glasses or contacts, it also creates a mid-peripheral defocus on the back of the eye to prevent further progression of nearsightedness.
How is Ortho-K Different from Refractive Surgery?
Ortho-K has a similar optical effect to refractive surgery in the sense that both correct nearsightedness by flattening the central cornea. The main difference is that refractive surgery permanently changes corneal shape, while Ortho-K is completely reversible. This is why refractive surgery is only recommended once the patient’s eyesight has stabilized.
How Do Multifocal Contact Lenses Work?
Multifocal contact lenses create an optical effect similar to that of Ortho-K. It allows for good vision centrally, while causing a mid-peripheral defocus on the back of the eye to prevent worsening of nearsightedness. However, multifocal contact lenses need to be worn during the day, because they do not reshape the curvature of the eye.
How Do Multifocal Contact Lenses Compare to Ortho-K?
For many multifocal (MF) lenses, the optical effects are similar to that achieved with Ortho-K. The main difference is that MF lenses are worn during the day, as there is no corneal reshaping involved. The optical effect is dependent on the lenses.
Are Myopia Control Treatments Safe?
Our doctors are highly trained to provide the utmost care to our patients. There is a small risk with any contact lens wear, most typically a minor infection easily addressed by antibiotic drops. The risk is greatly minimized by adopting a regime of careful cleaning and disinfecting, by wearing the lenses as prescribed by your doctor and by maintaining the necessary follow-up visits.
What Does the Evaluation Process Entail?
A few key tests must be performed in order to determine which treatment option is best. First, it must be determined that your eyes are healthy. Your doctor will examine the retina and overall health of the outside of your eye. The next component consists of corneal mapping, which is done using a topographer. The topography of the eye shows your doctor exactly how your cornea is shaped. If Ortho-K is the best option, this information, along with the size of your cornea and vision prescription, is all used to design your retainer lenses (corneal molds) needed to create the Ortho-K effect.
Who is a Good Candidate?
Myopia control can be effective on farsighted, nearsighted (myopic), and astigmatic patients. If you have been unable to wear contact lenses for any reason (discomfort, allergies, dryness, etc.), Ortho-K is so easy to use and worn while you sleep. You are also a great candidate if you need excellent vision without the use of contacts or glasses.
How Long Does it Take?
With Ortho-K, it can take from one to four weeks to achieve excellent vision. However, some people achieve this in as little as one day. The speed depends, in part, on your initial prescription. Multifocal soft contact lenses work instantly but must be worn all day long.