Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common type of refractive error in which distant objects appear blurry, but objects up close appear clearly. The prevalence of myopia has increased significantly in Asia, Australia and the United States. This is a concern because higher levels of myopia are associated with higher risk of eye disease. However, recent studies have been shown to slow down the progression of myopia.
If your child requires new glasses before their yearly exam, or if there is a change of 0.75 diopters or more per year, they can benefit from myopia control treatment. The three ways to slow down the progression of myopia include orthokeratology or corneal refractive therapy, soft multifocal contact lenses, and eye drops.
Orthokeratology/Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT)
This treatment involves the use of specially designed gas-permeable lenses worn overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea, or front surface of the eye. Orthokeratology/CRT has been found to effectively reduce myopia progression. This treatment will also significantly reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses during the day.
Soft Multifocal Contact Lenses
Soft multifocal lenses have also been shown to slow down the progression of myopia. These are special lenses that have different prescription powers in different zones of the lens. The lenses were first developed for patients with presbyopia to provide clear distance and near vision simultaneously. Now they are also used in myopia control treatment. These lenses are worn during the day.
Atropine Eye Drops
Atropine at higher concentrations (1%) has been known to slow down myopia progression but side effects including temporary paralysis of the focusing muscle, dilated pupils, and skin rashes limited its use. However, recent studies have shown that atropine at a very low concentration (0.01%) is also effective at slowing the progression of myopia with little or no side effects. These eye drops are specially made at a compounding pharmacy and requires the instillation of one drop in each eye before bedtime.