What Is Myopia?
Myopia is the medical term for nearsightedness. A nearsighted eye focuses near objects clearly, but far away objects are left blurry without glasses/contact lenses.
In order to see clearly, objects must be focused on the retina, the back of the eye, accurately. If the eye is too short or too long, the quality of vision is diminished because images are either focused in front of or behind the retina rather than directly on the retina. Myopia most often results from the eye being too long.
The nearsighted eye tends to grow longer with time – just as feet get bigger and children grow taller. Consequently, nearsighted children need stronger glasses every year, as their eyes grow.
Why Control Myopia?
Myopia control methods have been shown to reduce a person’s myopia by 60%. Without attempting to control myopia progression, the amount of nearsightedness, and therefore the strength of the prescription needed to see clearly, can increase by 0.50 D or more each year.
Myopia has also been associated with common vision-threatening conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachments. The risk of developing these conditions as a result of myopia increases as the severity of myopia increases.
How Do Optical Treatments Slow Myopia Progression?
Regular glasses and contact lenses that correct myopia focus objects on the fovea –the most sensitive area of central vision – allowing for clear central vision. These forms of correction concurrently focus images in the periphery BEHIND the retina. Research has repeatedly shown that images focused behind the peripheral retina trigger the eye to grow longer in an effort to reduce the error in focus. This signal for growth is what causes myopia to increase.
Myopia control methods pull images in the periphery onto or in front of the retina, reducing the signal for eye elongation.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Corneal Reshaping Contact Lenses – Corneal reshaping contact lenses are worn during sleep and removed in the morning. These lenses temporarily change the shape of the cornea so the wearer can see clearly during waking hours without the use of daytime contact lenses or glasses. This process bends light in a way that is beneficial to the eye and has been shown to reduce myopia progression by an average of 50%.
Soft Bifocal Contact Lenses – Soft bifocal contact lenses are typically used in adults over 40 years of age to read clearly as well as see far away. This process also bends light in a way that is beneficial to the eye and has been shown to reduce myopia progression in children by an average of 50%.
Atropine – While it is not known how atropine slows myopia development, low concentration (0.01%) atropine has been shown to reduce myopia progression by an average of 60% without causing blurred near vision or increased light sensitivity, which are two side effects common with higher concentrations of the medication.