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Myopia Control: Slowing Its Progression in Greater Houston

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A young girl tries on a pair of glasses with her optometrist

Myopia is a growing problem across the world. It affects nearly 30% of Americans, with some predictions saying that by 2050 as much as 50% of the world will be myopic.

Myopia, or nearsightedness, typically first presents in children and can progressively worsen until adulthood. Fortunately, once it’s diagnosed, your eye doctor can recommend strategies to address this problem to reduce the risk of eye disease later in life. Through myopia control, your eye doctor can use advanced techniques to potentially slow the progression of your child’s myopia.

What Is Myopia?

The human eye is a collection of delicate and precise structures that work together to give you clear vision. When light enters the eye, it passes through the cornea and lens. These 2 structures refract (bend) the light and focus it onto the photoreactive cells at the back of the eye, called the retina.

For children with myopia, the eye has grown too long lengthwise (from front to back), or the cornea is too curved. Because of this, when light enters the eye, it instead focuses just in front of the retina. This results in distant objects appearing blurry while nearby objects remain clear.

Children’s eyes continue to grow as they age, and if they’re consistently growing too long, your child’s myopia will only worsen. So eye professionals have designed myopia control to “train” the eyes to stop growing lengthwise.

Recognizing Myopia in Children

It’s likely your child will be the first one to notice that they have myopia, but they may not have the words to describe it. Vision skills are essential for a child’s growth, but they’ve only ever had their own vision and may not recognize when something is wrong.

Some signs you may notice that could indicate a vision problem include:

  • Excessive blinking or eye rubbing
  • Discomfort, fatigue, and headaches
  • Avoiding close activities and reading, or holding reading materials close to eyes
  • Complaints of seeing double
  • Short attention span
  • Trouble remembering what they read
  • Covering one eye or tilting head to one side to read
  • Losing place when reading

These vision problems can be confused with learning difficulties like ADHD since a child may appear to be distractible when, in truth, they simply can’t see what others are looking at.

Myopia symptoms will typically worsen until your child’s eyes stabilize around the age of 20. This means that the earlier a child starts a myopia control plan, the less time myopia has to progress. And if myopia is allowed to progress too far, it can increase the risk of severe eye conditions such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Retinal detachment
  • Macular degeneration

Getting your child’s vision examined regularly and comprehensively is vital to detect early warning signs, especially if you or your partner have myopia. The American Optometric Association recommends school-aged children have yearly exams and continue to get eye exams at least every 2 years into adulthood.

A diagram showing how ortho-k lenses can correct the shape of the cornea over time by wearing the lenses at bedtime

Myopia Control with Ortho-K

There’s no cure for myopia, but with advanced techniques and diagnostic equipment, eye doctors can help you manage its progression.

While traditional glasses or contacts can correct myopia, they won’t slow it down. However, specialty contacts, such as ortho-k lenses, are designed to correct vision and slow myopia progression in children.

Ortho-k lenses address the core issue behind myopia: the cornea. These lenses are worn while you sleep and apply gentle pressure to the front of your eye, flattening it to better focus light onto the cornea. While this flattening isn’t permanent, it generally lasts the entire day and allows you to see clearly for that time. 

For children with myopia, ortho-k lenses can motivate their eyes not to grow too long. In fact, some studies have shown that ortho-k lenses can reduce myopia’s progression by up to 80%.

Every child’s eyes are different, and the amount of reshaping they need will depend on their prescription. Eye doctors use an advanced imaging device called a topographer to map the cornea’s surface and design specialized contact lenses for your child’s eyes. Getting comfortable with the lenses can take some time, but most people see improvement in a few days or weeks.

Other Myopia Control Options

Ortho-k lenses aren’t the only option for myopia control. Sometimes ortho-k won’t be appropriate for a child, or an eye doctor can pair it up with other treatments for maximum effectiveness.

Atropine Drops

Atropine drops are special eye drops typically used to dilate your pupils before an eye exam. However, studies have shown that low-concentration atropine drops may slow myopia progression by up to 50%.

Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses are designed like a bullseye, with different focusing power rings along their surface. By focusing peripheral light in front of the retina, these lenses cue your eyes to stop growing, potentially slowing myopia in children.

Comprehensive Eye Care for Children

The choices you make now can affect your children’s vision for the rest of their lives. Evolutionary Eye Care offers advanced myopia control options that focus on results.If your child has myopia and you’re looking for solutions, contact us today to learn more about what ortho-k and myopia management can do. We have three convenient locations to serve you in Texas: Sugar Land, Webster, and Downtown Houston.

Written by Evolutionary Eye Care

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