Myopic Control for Children who are shortsighted
Myopia, or shortsightedness as it is often called, happens when an eye grows too much or is stretched. Usually, this process happens in children who are around 6-7 years of age. Up until a few years ago all anyone could do is simply make the child’s glasses stronger every 6-12 months.
Fortunately, times have changed and now there a number of Myopic Control options for parents:
- MiyoSmart Spectacle lenses.
- Special soft contact lenses.
- Orthokeratology – hard contact lenses that reshape the eyes.
- Eye Drops – special drugs that reduce the eye’s ability to focus.
Why are MiyoSmart Lenses a Great Place to Start?
- They look just like normal glasses your child might already be wearing.
- They do cost a little more than normal lenses but they are very ‘high tech.’
- Kids have little to no trouble using them.
- The research shows they work very well.
- The lenses are UV blocking & Impact resistant.
What Is Myopia (Shortsighted)?
Children’s eyes continue to grow until they reach 10-12 years of age. By then the growth usually stops.
Children with myopia have eyes that simply grow too fast, stretch too much or just seem to want to keep on growing after the age of 12.
Why Is Myopia (shortsightedness) A Problem?
The simple answer is that any eye which grows too much gets stretched. Think of the eye much like a balloon full of water. If you put too much water in the balloon, the balloon stretches until it is so thin you can almost see it wants to burst.
When an eye gets stretched there is enormous pressure on the retina (the ‘film’ at the back of the eye). Children who develop Moderate to High levels of Myopia (shortsightedness) have a much greater chance of developing eye diseases for the rest of their life. Disease such as:
- Macular Degeneration,
- Retinal Detachment &,
- Myopic Maculopathy.
Now just because you may have had ‘Laser Surgery’ to correct your Myopia it doesn’t mean you have ‘fixed’ your stretched eyes. This is a very commonly held belief. Unfortunately, it is just plain wrong.
So in summary it is better not to have Myopia if you can avoid it.
Can Myopia Be Cured?
No, at this time we have no way to shrink an eye.
It would be nice if you could do a few exercises and the eye got smaller. Even better if you could simply press your eyes every day and they miraculously went back to a more normal size. Nowadays we have special machines that can measure the ‘axial length’ of the eye and we know that exercises or vitamins will not make your child’s eye shrink.
Ninety minutes of natural sunlight is the only scientifically proven natural solution to slowing myopia. Even sunlight cannot reverse myopia, but it has been proven to slow it down in many cases.
Much research is currently underway into the causes of Myopia and the possible cures, I have no doubt science will find an answer. But for the moment all we can do is try to minimise the changes whilst the scientists work on solving the problem.
Is Sunlight Helpful?
Researchers know that normal bright daylight appears to slow the rate of myopic progression (the rate at which your child’s eye is growing) by as much as 50%. Research shows that children who spend around 2 hours a day outside have lower rates of Myopia. Children who have myopia and who spend two hours outside in natural daylight tend to progress significantly less and at a much slower rate than kids who are mostly inside..
As a result most experts who study Myopia recommend 120 minutes (2 hrs) of ‘Sun Safe’ daylights for every child every day. Interestingly it doesn’t seem to matter whether the child uses a hat and sunglasses, is playing undercover or uses early morning (before 8am) or late afternoon (after 4pm). The benefits are all the same.
Are Devices Harmful?
That is a tough one. The answer is we are not sure? Again experts recommend less than 30 minutes of device time away from School for children under 8 years of age.
Now before parents, all start jumping up and down about screaming: “what about devices at school?” Studies using ‘Eye Trackers’ placed on children in classrooms show that in a classroom setting children look away from the device 10 times in a single minute. When was the last time you saw your child look away from their favourite device for more than a few seconds when they were gaming or watching YouTube at home?
What Is Myopic Management / Control?
In summary, there are four options scientifically proven to help slow the progress of Myopia in Children. We cannot stop myopia and the controls we have at present are by no means 100% successful on all children.
BUT!!! The alternative is to sit back and do nothing. Having been an optometrist for over 30 years, the idea of doing nothing no longer sits well with me. I would much rather help slow the myopia in 60% of children by doing something, than watch, 100% of the children get worse by doing nothing.
What Are Your Options?
- MiyoSmart Spectacle Lenses.
- Special Soft Contact Lenses.
- Orthokeratology – Hard Contact Lenses
- Eye Drops to reduce accommodation.
You will not be surprised to learn that sometimes one solution will work better for one child and hardly have an effect on another. So don’t get all excited about one option and simply ignore the rest.
As a parent, I must say that the use of drugs on a daily basis is not something I would have wanted for my children. As an Optometrist, I would therefore refer your child to a Paediatric Ophthalmologist if there was a need to use a drug treatment.