Around the world, the incidence of myopia is increasing. A recent Sydney study found that the incidence of myopia in 12-year-old children of European Caucasian ethnicity has almost doubled over the past half-decade. The incidence of myopia in some East Asian countries is over 90 per cent in young adulthood. These statistics are alarming!
Myopia (Shortsightedness) means way more then needing a pair of Spectacles:
Small amounts of Myopia (even 1 Diopter) increases the risk of glaucoma, posterior subcapsular cataract (PSCC), retinal detachment and myopic macular degeneration of at least double compared to a person who is not shortsighted.
A person with a moderate amount of shortsightedness (around 3 Diopters) of myopia will carry a triple risk of PSCC, quadruple risk of glaucoma and ten-fold increased risk of retinal detachment and myopic macular degeneration.
People who have ‘high myopia’ of 5 to 6 Diopters and above a shown to have 16 greater risk for retinal detachments & are 40 times more likely to suffer macular damage then a person who is not shortsighted.
- Many Optometrists are alarmed about the number of patients they are now seeing who have progressive myopia,
- They believe that myopia controlling contact lenses are most effective in reducing progression,
- Yet around 50 per cent of progressing myopes are still prescribed single vision spectacles to control the progression of the myopia.
Spectacles Used To Slow Myopia:
Prescribing bifocal or progressive lenses to children with a progressive myopic shift will assist 30 – 47% of cases where the child displays Esophoria and Large Accommodative Lag (>1.00D) at near. For a child with normal binocular vision function, the same spectacle lenses are not useful. In children with normal Binocular vision environmental causes appear to be very important:
- Children who spend less than 90 minutes outdoors per day;
- More than three hours on near vision tasks outside of school time;
Are at highest risk for development and progression of myopia.
Current research indicates that Ortho K is our best means of controlling progressive myopia. However; in the future the ideal myopia controlling contact lens will have some combination of to modify RPH (Retinal Peripheral Hypermetropia), reducing Esophoria and Accommodative Lag, and increasing Positive SA (Spherical Aberration).
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Are Contact Lenses safe for Children?
For parents unsure of the safest age to begin Contact Lens Wear researchers have found the following:
- The best age to start is after 10 years of age;
- There is no difference in the frequency of adverse events and objective assessment of ocular health has been found between those fitted as children compared to those fitted as teens.
- Younger children will require more parental supervision to ensure all handling requirements are consistently maintained.
As we all know each child is different. Parents obviously know their children best & therefore are in the best position to provide advice in regards to compliance.
Unfortunately the earlier a child developed a myopic shift the more aggressive the progression is likely to be. Early intervention is the key to minimising the progression. It should also be noted by parents that there is no one technique that can guarantee to stop a Myopic Shift. The best we can offer currently is to minimise the change using modern techniques.