Myopia is an epidemic worldwide with increasing rates and earlier age of onset.
Progressive myopia, especially if onset is at an earlier age, puts one at risk of high myopia and it’s associated complications, such as retinal tears and detachment, myopic maculopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.
The aim of myopia control is to prevent high myopia and it’s associated complications. Each child is different and has different rates of myopia progression. Treatment should be individualised based on the risk of each child.
Lifestyle modifications such as spending more time outdoors and reducing unnecessary near work (i.e. use of handheld devices) are important. Remember the 20/20/2 rule: after every 20 mins of near work, take a 20 second break and spend 2 hours of time outdoors per day.
If lifestyle modifications alone do not help, there are other optical and pharmacological methods to help your child.
Atropine eye drops have been found to be effective in reducing the rate of progression of myopia, by around 60 per cent over a two-year period. However, not everyone is suitable and it may not work for all children.
Recently, multifocal soft contact lenses have also been found to be effective in reducing the rate of progression of myopia. Called the MiSight 1 day, it is currently the first soft disposable contact lens that has been clinically tested in a three-year multi-centre study and found to slow myopia in children. The dual-focused soft lens has alternating vision correction and treatment zones. This allows the user to see clearly while inducing myopic defocus, in which the image is focused in front of the retina to help slow eyeball growth, and with it, the degree of myopia.
When using contact lens, parents must first ascertain that their child is mature enough and ready. Improper use of contact lenses can cause serious complications that may cause permanent vision loss.Children using contact lenses must be properly fitted by a certified eyecare practitioner, carefully monitored and followed up by an ophthalmologist, and patients are required to undergo regular follow-ups for the treatment to be successful.
Glasses are generally safe and well tolerated by children. Myopia control spectacles range in efficacy from 0-50% in preventing myopia progression. Large clinical studies have found that vision therapy and traditional Chinese medicine are not effective in preventing myopia progression either.
If you or your partner have myopia, has a sibling who has myopia or born premature, your child is at risk of myopia. Children should have a full eye examination at six months, 18 months, three years and annually subsequently. Speak to your doctor today about the available treatment options suitable for your child, or make an appointment to customise a treatment plan for the best results for your child.