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Myopia

Myopia and Contact Lenses

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a very common eye condition that causes a person to be unable to see objects clearly from a distance. This condition affects an estimated 30% of the world population today, and that number is projected to grow to as much as 50% by 2050.

But did you know that, beyond poor eyesight, myopia can also pose a long-term threat to your kid’s vision and eye health? Eye doctors warn that significant data points to a connection between myopia and development of potentially sight-threatening eye conditions, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, later in life.

Fortunately, our Somerset eye doctors offer extensive pediatric eye care, including contact lenses meant to address myopia and stop or slow its progression. Want to know more about contact lenses for myopia? Take a look below!

Contacts That Can Help With Myopia

Finding the right type of contact lens to help your child with their myopia starts with a comprehensive eye exam with our local optometrist at Associates in Eye Care. Once we’ve taken a look at your kid’s eyes, we’ll be able to assess how best to help.

 

Here are some of the most popular options available to help your child:

Orthokeratology (Ortho-k)

Ortho-k lenses are a special type of contacts that are worn at night, which gently reshape your cornea as you sleep. This allows you to wake up the next morning and enjoy improved vision for the whole day without further need for contacts or glasses.

Ortho-k lenses have also been shown to slow the progression of myopia in kids.

The daily effects of these lenses are temporary, so it is essential that they be worn every night to maximize their ability to improve your child’s vision, as well as slow their myopia progression significantly.

Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses

Though primarily meant to treat vision problems associated with presbyopia, bifocal and multifocal lenses have proven to be effective also in slowing myopia progression.

Specifically, bifocal and multifocal lenses that have distance vision correction in the center and near vision correction on the sides have been shown to stop or significantly slow children’s myopia.

Unfortunately, there is no way to cure myopia. Glasses and contacts can help correct vision, but often don’t prevent vision from getting worse, leaving your child vulnerable to eye disease later in life. Find out more about how myopia management can change this, and preserve your child’s long-term vision and eye health.

Contact our Somerset eye doctors at Associates in Eye Care today!

Q&A With Your Local Eye Doctor

Does myopia management work for adults?

Though myopia management is primarily effective in children, some research has shown that it can still be helpful for adults as well. Primary methods of adults myopia management include ortho-k lenses and multifocal glasses and contacts.

Can myopia cause blindness?

Most of the time myopia does not cause significant short-term vision loss beyond the characteristic nearsightedness. However, an extreme form of myopia, known as degenerative myopia, is a leading cause of legal blindness. Fortunately, it is quite rare, affecting only 2% of the population. Nonetheless, comprehensive eye exams are essential to ensure that myopia doesn’t cause significant vision loss.

Childhood Myopia Is in Crisis Mode on a Global Scale

When it comes to the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness), the statistics are staggering. By 2050, nearly half of the world’s population—about 5 billion people—will be myopic. Below are a few useful tips to help you prevent your child from being part of that statistic.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, causing light rays to focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it, while looking at something far away. So, people with nearsightedness perceive distant objects as blurred while close-up objects can remain clear. 

Myopia tends to develop during childhood, when the eyeballs rapidly grow (along with the rest of the body), mainly between the ages of 8-18. It can worsen slowly or quickly, but it is not simply an inconvenience. People with progressive myopia are more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life—conditions which may lead to permanent loss of vision and even blindness.

How To Know Whether Your Child Is Myopic

Below are some telltale signs to watch for: 

  • Blurred distance vision – Objects in the distance are blurred; kids may complain that they can’t see the board
  • Headaches – When myopia isn’t corrected, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
  • Head tilting or squinting – If your child squints or tilts his or her head while watching TV, for example, it may be a symptom of myopia. 
  • Looking at objects too closely – If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or squinting as they try to see the writing on the board, it may indicate myopia.

What Parents Can Do to Slow Their Child’s Myopia Progression 

  • Encourage your child to go outdoors for at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Studies show that playing outdoors reduces the risk of developing myopia and slows its progression. 
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen, reading and doing close work such as homework. 
  • When your child uses a digital screen, make sure that it isn’t too close to the face.
  • Teach the 20-20-20 rule: During screen time, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object across the room or out the window about 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.

How We Can Help

Certain eye doctors offer treatment methods known as myopia control or myopia management. These include orthokeratology, bifocal or multifocal contact lenses, and eye drops like low dose atropine. Regular eyeglasses and contact lenses don’t prevent its progression but do correct myopia so the child can see and function normally.

If your child shows signs of myopia, schedule an eye exam with Associates in Eye Care in Somerset as soon as possible.

Q&A

How is myopia diagnosed?

Your child’s eye doctor will perform a thorough pediatric eye exam to diagnose myopia, which often includes a visual acuity test, where the eye doctor will use an eye chart made up of letters of varied sizes. If the test results indicate myopia, then the optometrist may shine a light into their eyes and evaluate the reflection off the retina to determine the degree of refractive error for their prescription.

Can myopia lead to blindness?

High myopia may increase your child’s risk of developing more serious eye conditions later in life, such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma. Left untreated, high myopia complications can sometimes lead to blindness—which is why routine eye exams are critical.