Why is myopia a problem?
As well as needing thicker glasses or contact lenses to correct higher levels of myopia, it brings an increased risk of eye disease and reduced sight. In particular, retinal detachment and glaucoma are more likely in patients with a high level of myopia.
Research is ongoing to find ways to reduce the number of people who reach high levels of myopia. This is important as myopia is becoming more common.
How short sighted am I?
|Low||up to -3.00 DS|
|Intermediate||-3.00 DS to -5.00 DS|
|High||More than -5.00 DS|
How does myopia control work? (The science bit)
When light is focussed on the retina at the back of the eye, this gives clear vision.
Light is focussed by a combination of the cornea (the front of the eye) and the lens inside the eye. Myopia occurs when the eye is too strong, so that light comes into focus too far forward in the eye, causing distance objects to appear blurred.
Conventional spectacle lenses or contact lenses compensate for this, bringing central light into focus at the back of the eye.
However, not all light coming into the eye behaves in the same way; light focussing in the eye peripherally behaves differently to the light coming in centrally.
In children who are becoming myopic, the peripheral light tends to focus behind the retina. Because this peripheral light does not focus on the retina it is thought that the eye responds by growing. Whilst the larger eye reduces peripheral blurring, it also makes the eye increasingly myopic.
By wearing contact lenses prescribed for myopia control, peripheral blur can be managed and the growth trigger reduced, in turn reducing the severity of myopia. On average a 50% reduction in myopia progression is achieved.
Are my children at risk of high levels of myopia?
There are a number of factors that increase the chances of your child becoming highly myopic, the main ones are:
- If one or both parents are short-sighted, this increases the risk of a child becoming myopic.
- The younger a child first becomes myopic the higher their myopia is likely to become.
- If a child spends two or three hours a day outside they are less likely to become highly myopic. But, remember children need UV protection when playing outside. Young eyes are particularly vulnerable to damage from exposure to UV.
What is myopia control?
In myopia control, as well as prescribing lenses to achieve clear vision, we also aim to slow down the progression of the short-sightedness. Over many years, research has been carried out to find an effective way to do this.
In the future, lenses may be available to prevent myopia developing but currently we are working with lenses that give an average progression reduction of 50%.
If, for example, wearing these lenses as a child, an individual ends up with a final prescription of -4.00 rather than -6.00 this will mean a significant reduction in the complications associated with higher levels of myopia. We recommend starting treatment at the earliest signs of myopia.
There are currently two types of contact lens wear shown to reduce the progression of myopia in children: orthokeratology and multifocal contact lenses. Spectacle lenses are being developed to control myopia, too, but currently these do not give good results.
My child is still becoming more myopic despite the use of myopia control lenses. Why is this?
Currently research shows an average 50% reduction in myopic progression with myopia control lenses. As an average figure, some patients will benefit much more than this, whilst others much less. We also would never know how much more short-sighted an individual might have become without myopia control treatment.
My child seems young to wear contact lenses, will they manage?
Research has shown that primary school children do very well with contact lenses and we have many children wearing contact lenses successfully. We allow plenty of time to teach them how to insert and remove their lenses as well as look after their eyes and lenses. We feel that our success in fitting younger children with contact lenses is because we do so in a fun and engaging way.