Before we discuss methods that DO slow down myopia progression, we must first discuss methods that do NOT slow it down. In fact, some of these methods may actually PROMOTE myopia progression. Eek!
Let’s start with the most common: single vision spectacles. This is what most of us “myopes” were prescribed the first time we went to the eye doctor. You may remember that moment you first put on your brand new glasses. I bet you did not know that there were actually leaves on trees, did you? Single vision spectacles serve an excellent purpose. They correct a patient’s distance vision allowing them to see in perfect “high definition.” But, the problem with this option is that it corrects vision in only one small area of the retina called the macula. Researchers have found that by correcting vision in the macula, we are, in turn, under-correcting vision in the rest of the retina. This under-correction causes the eye to elongate or become MORE myopic! This is counter-productive to what we ultimately want to achieve with myopia management.
So you may be thinking, “Why won’t prescribing a lower prescription work to slow down myopia progression?” This option has been heavily researched because it kind of makes sense as a myopia control strategy. Under-correct the prescription so the patient has to work a little harder. Theoretically, this will prevent the eye from getting lazy or the prescription from getting worse. Turns out, this strategy actually DOES make the prescription worse. Bottom-line is that under-correction in the patient’s prescription causes under-correction at the macula. This REALLY causes under-correction in the rest of the retina. And you know what that means from above…more myopia!
Last up is single vision soft or hard contact lenses. Again, let’s all think back to the first time we tried contact lenses. After trying to put lenses in for an hour, you finally found success and it was fabulous! You could see just as well or better without having to deal with all the aggravations of glasses. Single vision contact lenses pretty much present the same dilemma as single vision spectacles…great vision but a stimulus for myopia progression.
Now that we have hashed out the methods that DON’T control myopia, we can focus on the methods that DO! Stay tuned!
-Ashley Tucker, OD, FAAO, FSLS, Diplomate ABO
Therapeutic Optometrist at BFEC