When a child receives a diagnosis of any kind, a barrage of questions pops into a parent’s mind. Hearing your child has myopia can be puzzling. The word may sound familiar, but what are the specifics?
What is Myopia?
Myopia is a vision impairment that creates difficulties seeing objects that are far away. It tends to begin in early childhood (between the ages of six and 12), but the onset can occur at any time. Typically known as nearsightedness or shortsightedness, myopia in children is quite prevalent. Myopia is the second-highest reported long term condition for Australian children, ranking just below hay fever.
Myopia Occurs for Two Reasons
When the cornea has an extended curve causing light to bend more than it should, the image seems blurry because the light is bent improperly.
When the eye is elongated, in this case, light coming into the eye does not land on the retina, causing images to blur.
Signs of Myopia in Children
Squinting or partially closing eyelids to see objects in the distance
Complaints of headaches or sore and tired eyes
Excessively watery eyes
Holding objects very close to the face
Frequent eye rubbing
Closing one eye to read
How Can Glasses Help Myopia?
When treating myopia, single vision lenses may give your child clear vision at all distances. The lenses bend the light that enters the eye to hit the proper spot on the retina.
However, single vision glasses generally do not slow the progression of myopia. Most optometry experts agree that contact lenses have a higher success rate for reducing myopia progression.
What are the Lens Options for Children with Myopia?
There are several types of myopia lenses available. A careful eye exam will help determine which is the best kind for your child.
Single Vision Lenses – Single vision lenses can correct the blurred vision and other symptoms associated with myopia in children. Keep in mind these are not a solution to slow the progression of myopia.
Bifocal Lenses – These lenses correct two types of vision issues. The lenses have a thin line dividing the top and bottom. The top half of the lens helps the wearer to see far away. And the bottom assists with up-close tasks like reading. Bifocals demonstrate the ability to slow the progression of myopia by roughly one-third during a three-year study.
Progression Addition Lenses (PALs) – Progressive lenses, also called multifocal lenses, change gradually from long-distance at the top down to reading lenses at the bottom. Unlike bifocals, there is no dividing line to mark transitions. Patients often say the gradual change of multifocal lenses is preferable to the stark contrast of bifocals. These lenses have a minimal effect on controlling myopia and work best in children with specific eye muscle teaming issues.
Myopia Control Specific Lenses – These lenses work to control childhood myopia better than bifocals and progressive lenses. The lens demonstrated a 62 per cent myopia control in children over two years. A peripheral plus lens design showed a 20 per cent myopia control after one year. Another special lens type is called a multisegment spectacle lens.
Which Lens is Best for My Child?
Your eye care professional will look at several factors to help determine which kind of lens will help your child the most. These factors include,
The level of myopia
Willingness to wear the glasses
Eye muscle coordination
The availability of the lenses as not all kinds are available in all countries
Benefits of other treatments versus glasses
Do Contact Lenses Help Control Myopia in Children?
There are two main types of myopia control contact lenses that work to help manage myopia in children.
Daily disposable soft contact lenses such as the brand MiSight are known to be successful in controlling the progression of myopia. These lenses are often used in conjunction with low-dose atropine eye drops to slow progressive myopia when used consistently.
Rigid contact lenses called Orthokeratology or Ortho-K can reshape the eye if worn consistently over time. Ortho-K contacts may be used along with low-dose atropine eye drops. The lenses are worn at night and work while the wearer sleeps.
It is important to note that not all children are good candidates for contact lens treatment for their myopia. Age, tolerance, and maturity are essential factors to consider before moving forward with contact lenses.
Learning your child has myopia can be unsettling, especially since ensuring your child is well is your number one job. Working with caring professionals makes that job easier.
At E Eye Place, our experts will examine, diagnose, and help correct your child’s myopia as well as any other vision concerns. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us. Our staff is happy to help get you the information you need.
Stephanie is an owner optometrist, researcher and educator. She has held clinical, teaching and research roles in Australia and overseas, and has extensive training and clinical experience. Stephanie is also the head optometrist at E Eye Place, on top of this, she is also currently a PhD candidate at UNSW. Dr Stephanie Yeo Optometrist BOptom (HC1) GradCertOcTher DOPT (Merit) CO Ophthalmic Medicines Prescriber.