Studies Show that Myopia Control Can Be Effective
For several years, eye care researchers and practitioners have looked for treatments to cure or slow nearsightedness, or myopia. This issue, which has increased in the United States and across the world in the last few decades, affects about 30% of teens and children, making it one of the more common vision issues worldwide.
Fortunately, studies have shown that myopia control, which involves the use of treatments to slow down the progression of nearsightedness, can be effective. Myopia control is vital for children, as eyes change most during these developmental years. If unchecked, nearsightedness may get significantly worse and lead to sight-threatening problems down the line.
Myopia control treatments can be prescribed by an optometrist or opthalmologist, and may help lower the risk of vision complications later in life. Studies have shown that myopia control may help reduce the risk of cataracts, detached retina, glaucoma, and possibly blindness by creating changes in the way the eye is structed and focuses. These changes may help eyes reduce fatigue and stress associated with the progression of nearsightedness.
Four Types of Myopia Control Treatments
Multifocal contacts are meant to give the wearer suffering from refractive errors, like myopia, clear vision from any distance. They also help users who experience presbyopia, the regular loss of near-focusing ability due to aging. A study in the United States found that children with nearsightedness who wore multifocal contacts had a 50% reduction in their myopia’s progression compared to other nearsighted children wearing regular soft contact lenses during the same period.
Multifocal glasses are similar to multifocal contacts, working to help the wearer with presbyopia see all distances clearly. International studies have shown that children who wear multifocal glasses have much less myopia progression than those who wear glasses with single vision.
Another type of lens used for myopia control is the orthokeratology (ortho-k) contact lens, otherwise known as the corneal reshaping lens, or corneal refractive therapy. These lenses are actually worn overnight during sleep, causing a temporary correction so that during the day, corrective lenses are not needed. These lenses are gas permeable and thus safe for overnight wear, and have found to reduce the progression of myopia by about 45%.
Another myopia control treatment option is the use of atropine eye drops, which are often used to ease the pain associated with some kinds of eye inflammation. These drops also relieve the user’s eye by dilating the pupil, which temporarily limits the ability of the eye to change focus automatically. This process, called accommodation, is thought to be what makes atropine drops effective in slowing the progression of myopia in children. According to some studies, atropine has been found to be the best way to control myopia, as its use may reduce myopia progression up to 77%.
Myopia Control for Securing Future Vision
Because myopia generally develops during elementary-aged years and typically progresses more rapidly in young children and pre-teens, myopia control studies tend to involve younger children. It is possible for nearsightedness to progress in young adult and adulthood, but it’s relatively uncommon. It’s also thought that “older” eyes do not respond to treatments with the same efficacy as children’s eyes.
Though genetics can play a role in whether or not someone is nearsighted, the large increase in myopia in recent years is likely due to environmental factors. Researchers believe that the increase in “near work,” such as reading, writing, playing videogames, or using other screens, has played a large part in the increase. In the year 2000, approximately 1.4 billion people – about 23% of the global population – were nearsighted. It’s estimated that by the year 2050, this figure may rise to 4.8 billion people, or almost 50% of the world’s population, suffering from myopia.
Though there is no cure for myopia per se, myopia control treatments can help slow its progression and ensure better vision, longer. To get the best results from myopia control treatments, it’s important to take children in for comprehensive eye health and vision exams early. To schedule an appointment, contact us today.