Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the condition that makes it difficult to see clearly far away. Myopia is the most commonrefractive error of theeye.
A recent study estimated that about 1.4 billion people, or 23% of the global population was nearsighted in 2000. This number is expected to soar to 4.8 billion, or 49.8% of the world's population by 2050. These projected increases in myopia are driven largely by lifestyle changes involving more near-work activities at earlier ages on computers and digital electronic devices causing eye strain and fatigue, and less time spent outdoors. Heredity and genetics also play a role. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for children to become more myopic than both parents. Many other factors also affect one's affliction toward myopia.
Myopia usually begins developing at an early age, especially considering the early use of digital devices. Myopia generally increases every year until late teens and early twenties when it begins to stabilize. Everyone is unique.
Treatment for myopia includes eyeglasses, contact lenses, and when the eyes are stable and not changing, laser vision correction. This article will focus on methods to help control myopia.
These are all terms for similar treatment modalities. They involve being fit with a reverse geometry specialty rigid gas permeable contact lens. The patient wears the lenses while they sleep at night. The lenses gently and painlessly reshape the cornea (front surface) of the eye, allowing the patient to see well all day long without eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Recent studies have indicated this procedure is probably the most effective therapy available to help control myopia and slow down or halt its progression.
Multifocal Contact Lenses
Multifocal contact lenses have traditionally been reserved for patients age 40 and older who need help seeing both far away and up close. With improving contact lens technologies, these lenses may be an effective tool for children unable to adapt to or wear Ortho-K or CRT lenses. Use of multifocal lenses on children is still considered experimental, but may be beneficial in myopia control.
Anti-Focusing Eye Drops
Studies have shown the use of atropine eye drops can have a beneficial effect on myopia control for the first year of treatment. The drops have a negative effect on a person's focusing ability on objects up close. More research is needed because of other potential drawbacks and unknown long term effects.
Bifocal and Multifocal Eyeglasses
Studies have shown wearing bifocal or progressive eyeglasses can slow myopia progression compared to single vision lenses.
Eye exercises can improve visual efficiency, visual skills, dynamic visual acuity and peripheral awareness, but contrary to advertising claims seen on television and the internet, have not been proven to correct myopia. One recent study demonstrated under-correcting myopia may have a mild beneficial effect, but could also cause increased eye strain from squinting trying to see blurry distant objects.
The best way to take advantage of methods to control myopia is to detect it early by having a comprehensive eye examination. Children should receive a thorough comprehensive eye examination before they begin preschool.