Myopia Control and treatment for nearsightedness in Baltimore
Myopia, also referred to as nearsightedness, is a refractive error that causes blurry distance vision. This condition can develop as early as 7 years of age and is known to get progressively worse until the early to mid-twenties. Studies have shown that more and more people are living with myopia and that those with myopia are experiencing higher levels of blurriness. A recent study has indicated that in 2004, 41% of the United States population is nearsighted, which is nearly double the rate in 1971, which was 25%.
Why exactly are we experiencing such high levels of myopia? Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that myopia is an inherited disorder; meaning that if your parents are nearsighted, chances are you will be too. Another reason is that children and young adults use electronics and computers now more than ever. This prolonged use causes the eye to continue to grow, resulting in “axial elongation”, which makes a person nearsighted. Along with the increase in electronic usage comes the increased amount of time spent indoors. Studies have shown that spending less time outdoors is associated with more nearsightedness.
Now that we know what the probable causes for these surges in myopia are, what can we do about it? Until recently, the only real treatment options for myopia were contact lenses and eyeglasses, and maybe later on, refractive surgery.
New scientific research has been successful in controlling how quickly nearsightedness progresses. Through the use of these new treatments, referred to as “Myopia Control”, doctors are able to significantly slow the progression of myopia, in some cases as much as 70% to 90%. With early treatment, we are now able to control how much the eye grows, meaning that children today will experience only a fraction of the same nearsightedness later in life.
There are three main treatments associated with Myopia Control.
- Orthokeratology- The process of reshaping the cornea with gas permeable contact lenses that reduce refractive errors
- Special soft contact lens. The use of a special soft contact lens to change the way light focuses at the edge of vision (peripheral) as opposed to central vision has proven successful.
- The usage of a low concentration of this common eye medicine is proven to reduce nearsightedness when used once daily. This treatment can reduce the progression of nearsightedness almost 80%!
Why Not LASIK?
We often get the question: why can’t I just get LASIK? While LASIK has been proven very successful in the treatment of refractive errors, myopia is a little more complicated. LASIK only changes the surface of the cornea and not the shape of the entire eye. Because myopic patients actually have an elongated eye, they are more at risk for diseases such as retinal detachments, glaucoma, myopic maculopathy and early cataracts. While LASIK can restore some distance vision to myopic patients, it does not do anything to prevent these diseases.
Consider The Facts If Your Child has Myopia
- In Americans aged 12 to 54 years, the prevalence of myopia has almost doubled to over 40% in the past 30 years (Vitale et al, 2009).
- High myopia is strongly linked to a higher risk of cataracts, retinal detachment, and myopic maculopathy (Flitcroft, 2012). Increasing rates of vision impairment and blindness due to the latter are already evident in Asian countries (Iwase et al, 2006; Wuet al, 2011).
- Even 1.00D of myopia doubles the risk of myopic maculopathy (MM) and posterior subcapsular cataract (PSCC) and triples the risk of retinal detachment (RD) compared to emmetropes (not requiring correction).
- At 3.00D of myopia, the risk of PSCC triples, and the risk of RD and MM is nine times that of an emmetrope. Once children reach 5.00D of myopia, they hold five times greater risk of PSCC, a 21 times greater risk of RD, and 40 times greater risk of MM; higher levels bring more eye-watering risks. These ratio risks demonstrate that there is no physiological level of myopia that could be considered “safe” in comparison to emmetropia (Flitcroft, 2012)
- Children who have one myopic parent have a three-fold risk of myopia development compared to their peers who do not have this family history; two myopic parents double this risk again (Jones et al, 2007).
If you are living with myopia, or if you have a child who was diagnosed with myopia, call Eye Symmetry Vision Center in Owings Mills, Maryland today to see what we can do to help. Set up an appointment with Dr. Moshe Schwartz, O.D., F.A.A.O. to start your myopia control consultation for your child.