Myopia Control is a broad term used to explain about the specific methods to apply to slow the progression of myopia. First, let me know about the details of myopia. 

What is myopia?

Myopia, also called nearsightedness or shortsightedness is a common eye condition or refractive error in which the rays of light entering the eye are focused in front of the retina rather than directly on the retina, which causes blurred distance vision. The more myopia you have, the closer you have to be to see an object clearly. 

Globally, myopia is on rise. There are various factors associated with it. Currently, 30% of the world’s population is myopic. It is predicted that 50% of the global population will be myopic by the year 2050, which would make a myopia; a leading cause of permanent vision loss worldwide. These changes have been dramatically increasing since the last 2 decades. 

How does a child become myopic? 

Myopia usually begins in childhood when the eyeball grows too long causing distant blurred vision.There are several risk factors associated that increase the possibility of becoming more myopic. Some factors included the following points. 

  1. Genetics plays a vital role, when one or both parents are myopic. 
  2. Due to increased amount of near work. The child engaged in reading or spent time on digital devices for a long time. 
  3. Due to decreased amount of time spent outdoors. 

Why to control myopia? 

Controlling the myopia will keep an individual away from development of high degree of nearsightedness as well as other various issues. 

Mostly, the development of myopia is associated with the increase in the length of the eyeball. It’s known that the length of the eyeball increases as an individual grows. Various problems seen due to myopia are mentioned below. 

  • Cosmetical issue  

As your power of eye increases, the thickness of the lenses will also increase and eventually the weight of lens increases; which will give pressure to your glass that you wore. The pressure puts marks on your nose which can be the cosmetic problem. Similarly, a high power minus lens will make your eyes appear small. 

  • Ocular issue 

Vision can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. But a high degree of myopia increases the risk of following sight threatening complications. 

  1. Retinal Detachment and Retinal tears
  2. Glaucoma 
  3. Myopic Macular Degeneration 
  4. Optic nerve issues 
  5. Increased risk of cataract 
  • Visual and economical issue

As myopia increases the power increases then the thickness of the lens will increase. If you see through that thick lens then you may not see clearly due to aberration. When the light rays deviate through the lenses causing images of an object blurred is aberration. So as to minimize this, high index or aspheric lenses can be used which is quite expensive than normal lenses. 

How can you slow the myopia progression?

Prevention is better than cure, we all are aware about this. Prevention is obviously the best strategy to minimize the burden of myopia. As myopia is increasing rapidly worldwide, I already discussed various common problems seen due to high myopia so why not stop this or slow down the progression ?? 

If your loved ones has myopia, you may be worried about the condition and you may think if there is any cure or at least something to be done to slow down its progression. Many Researchers are thinking about this. A number of latest studies suggests that it is possible at least to control myopia by slowing its progression during childhood as well as among teenagers.

Myopia progresses most frequently in the early stages, so it will be better to start treatment as early as possible to gain the best positive results. In most cases, myopia progression will stop naturally in mid-twenties. 

To control myopia or stop the progression, your optometrist plays an important role. Once myopia is diagnosed, Optometrists become the main care provider to evaluate the risks of progression. This treatment is not possible within 1-2 days or even 2-3 months. It will take a minimum of 1 years or more depending upon the myopia progression. 

In the present scenario, following techniques are being applied. 

  1. Orthokeratology lenses ( ortho-k myopia control) 

Also known as corneal reshaping lenses. These lenses are specially designed gas permeable contact lenses that should be worn overnight while you sleep. The pressure exerted on the surface of the cornea overnight results in the temporary molding of the corneal surface which allows clear vision in the daytime without spectacles or contact lenses. This effect lasts for a day. 

Some studies suggest that it’s an effective method to reduce the progression of myopia by upto 50%. 

  1. Atropine Eye Drops 

Atropine eye drops are commonly used to reduce the pain associated with certain eye inflammation for a long time. It is an anticholinergic agent. It can also be used to dilate pupils and temporarily paralyze accommodation. 

Exact mechanism is unknown but different research observes that the low dose atropine helps to slow down the progression of myopia but has lesser effect on axial length.

It’s been found that it helps to reduce myopia progression by upto 50%. The effect of atropine has on accommodation may be what accounts for its effectiveness in also reducing the progression of myopia. 

  1. Multifocal soft contact lens

Multifocal contact lenses are special lenses that have different power in different zones of the lens and are designed to provide clear vision at all distances for people with refractive error and also presbyopia( normal loss of ability to focus at near which occurs with age).  Researchers found that such lenses are effective for myopia control. 

Several studies showed that soft multifocal contact lenses with a center distance design can slow the progression of myopia as well as elongation of the eyeball.

According to 2014 double-blind, randomized control trial of 21 Hong kong children between age of 8 to 13 years old with myopia of -1.00 to -5.00 D, Children who wear multifocal lens had 25% less myopia progression and 31% less axial elongation than those who were wearing single vision lenses over 2 years period of time. 

  1. Multifocal or bifocal spectacles

Research has examined that it is effective for myopia progression. This type of glass allows children to see far objects clearly from the top portion and bottom portion of the lens containing reading power which controls myopia progression by reducing accommodative efforts. 

One three year study of Chinese- Canadian children with progressive myopia found that wearing multifocal spectacles slow down the further worsening of myopia by 51% compared with the children who wore the normal spectacle for myopia correction. 

Frequently asked questions 

  1. Can eye exercise cure myopia? 

In fact, if you have refractive error ( myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism), you won’t cure such conditions with the help of eye exercise. Exercise will help for significant eye comfort rather than improving your vision. 

  1. What causes myopia? 

It usually occurs when the eyeball gets too long which causes the rays of light focus in front of the retina rather than directly on the retina. 

  1. How common is myopia? 

It is the most common condition seen in the world which is on the rise. It’s predicted that half of the world’s population will be myopic by the year 2050.

  1. How can I reduce myopia progression? 

There is not an exact way that can be prescribed to minimize the rate of progression. Some methods like ortho-k contact lenses, atropine eye drops, multifocal spectacles or contact lenses under the supervision of eye care practitioners can help to deduct the progression of myopia in a significant manner. 

  1. How can I prevent retinal detachment? 

You should have regular dilated eye examination either if you are myopic or you have family history of myopia. 

  1. What is the highest level of myopia? 

Diopters (D) is the unit in which myopia is measured. Generally, myopia is termed as high myopia when power is -5.00 to -6.00 or higher. 

  1. At what age myopia stops from progression? 

It usually stops from progression at mid-twenties.

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