Are you tired of needing a stronger glasses or contact lens prescription year after year? Myopia, or nearsightedness, affects millions of people worldwide. Recent studies conducted by eye care practitioners and scientists have shown that it may be possible to control myopia by slowing its progression. While there is currently no specific cure, controlling myopia is possible.
What is Myopia Control?
Myopia control describes various treatments that slow down or stop the progressive loss of far vision by preventing the eyeball from growing too long. When the eyeball grows too long, a stronger and stronger prescription is needed to correct for the problem. When myopia is controlled, you will have a weaker prescription over time which means that your vision will not be adversely affected as quickly as it might have been otherwise. But this isn’t the only reason, as high myopia is directly related to increased incidents of cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, and glaucoma as you get older.
Main Types of Myopia Control
There are four main treatments for controlling myopia:
- Atropine eye drops
- Multifocal contact lenses
- Bifocal or Multifocal eyeglasses
While each of these treatments has proven positive results in reducing nearsightedness, optometrists carefully select a treatment based on their patient’s age, prescription, and personal need. Methods can also be combined depending upon the severity.
Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, controls myopia through the temporary reshaping of the cornea. This is generally done overnight using specially designed rigid, gas permeable contact lenses. They are often called corneal reshaping lenses or corneal refractive therapy (CRT). Evidence shows that children who wear these specific lenses end up with less myopia as adults because the lenses control eyeball elongation which is a central factor associated with the progression of myopia. The effects of CRT last well beyond the first year of treatment. Read more about Orthokeratology here.
Atropine Eye Drops
Atropine is used to temporarily dilate the pupil, but this is not what your doctor uses during routine eye exams as it can cause the pupil to remain dilated for a week or more at a time. Atropine also relaxes the focusing mechanism in the eye which is why it is often used for myopia control. Nearsightedness has been linked to focusing fatigue in many scientific studies, so disabling the focusing mechanism in the eye has shown positive short-term results in myopia control. Unfortunately, myopic progression is only reduced during the first year of treatment. Drawbacks to using these drops are light sensitivity due to extensive and prolonged pupil dilation and blurry vision from relaxing the focusing mechanism.
Multifocal Contact Lenses
Multifocal contact lenses, such as NaturalVue, have various zones with different powers to help correct nearsightedness and control for its progression. Most often, the lens for myopia is designed with the full corrective power in the center and less power around the edges. While foundational research into multifocal lenses shows considerable possibilities in correcting myopia, there is still a need for further investigation into the lenses full potential.
Bifocal or Multifocal Eyeglasses
Bifocal or multifocal eyeglasses are much like the contact lenses but have had less impressive results. This may be due to the fact that eyeglasses do not cover the entire field of vision the same as contact lenses, so people wearing the glasses may not be getting the full effect. Multifocal eyeglasses in comparison with single vision eyeglasses do slow the progression of myopia, but only for a limited amount of time.
How Can You Control Myopia?
While myopia generally develops and progresses faster in young children and teenagers, it is possible for adults to develop it as well. Unfortunately, adult eyes do not always respond as quickly to treatments as do children and teens. That is why it is so very important to have your eyes examined — and your children’s eyes examined — every year. And if it turns out that either of you do have myopia, you should see a Myopia doctor like Dr. Barry Leonard.
Eye patients in the San Fernando Valley and anywhere in Los Angeles are fortunate to be near Dr. Barry Leonard. He is an experienced Optometrist who specializes in myopia control, diagnosis and treatment. If you call Southern California your home, call Dr. Leonard’s office, or schedule your eye exam online. His experienced, friendly team will be pleased to help you with all your vision care needs.