Myopia is a very common issue throughout the world. Approximately 1/3 of the population in the United States have the condition and over 90% of several East Asian countries suffer from myopia. While myopia may seem like such a common condition that it shouldn’t be cause for concern, it is actually associated with several very serious conditions that can threaten one’s ability to see.
Myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness, is a condition where individuals are able to see objects that are close to them but may have difficulty distinguishing things at a distance, such as road signs or leaves on a tree. These individuals often squint at objects that are further away to try and help bring them into focus.
Currently, there is no known cure for myopia and recent studies suggest that the more advanced your myopia gets, the more serious the effects can be on your vision. This has led eye professionals to look for ways to slow the progression of myopia in children and young adults as the eyes typically change more rapidly during this time.
There are a few different treatments for myopia that have proven to be effective in a number of studies. Any one of these can treat myopia or several can be used to reduce the progression of this condition.
Rigid Contact Lenses | Wearing rigid contact lenses can help to shape the cornea by flattening it. This hard lens helps to gently mold the cornea in the proper shape throughout the night. Then when you wake up in the morning and remove the lenses, your eye continues to maintain that shape. This means that people who are nearsighted can see clearly throughout the day, even without wearing contact lenses or glasses.
Atropine Eye Drops | Atropine is a potent drug that prevents the eye from focusing. Excessive focusing on near work causes the eye to elongate, increasing the level of myopia. Diluted atropine is used to limit the effects of dilating the pupil with the benefit of slowing elongation of the eye. This treatment has been shown to be especially effective in slowing the progression of myopia in children.
Multifocal Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses | Bifocal and progressive lenses have been used for many years to provide near focus to children, thereby reducing the amount of focus required for near work. It’s known that excessive near focus causes the eye to elongate, increasing the level of myopia. In much the same way, multifocal contact lenses are also used to slow the progression of myopia. Also available is a new FDA-approved single-use soft contact lens that has been shown to reduce myopia progression in children.