Myopia control for children using corrective lenses
Myopia control in children is nowadays a hot topic, and for very good reasons. Myopia is of growing concern worldwide. It is estimated that one out of two people in the world have myopia. And in Singapore, known infamously as the myopia capital of the world, the incidence of myopia in a primary school can be as high as 70%.
While myopia is common, it is the occurrence of myopia in young children that should cause great alarm. Unfortunately, leaving myopia in young children untreated can lead to serious problems later in life. For example, glaucoma, cataract, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and more eye problems are much more frequent in older people with high myopia.
Why is myopia in children a concern?
When myopia develops in children at a young age, it means that the eyes are growing too quickly. In fact, myopia happens when the eye becomes elongated from the back of the eye towards the front.
At the back of the eyes is the retina, which is a light sensitive layer responsible for vision. And when there is excessive growth in the eyes, the retina stretches.
Where a normal eye length is anywhere between 22 and 24mm, beyond that is considered abnormal. When a child eye grows longer than 26mm, there is a 25% higher risk of suffering eye problems in their lifetime. And when the child eye grows longer than 30mm, it is considered high myopia and the risk of visual impairment goes as high as 90%.
This is why myopia control is of great importance for children. And you should discuss this with an eye-care professional as soon as you notice that your children need corrective lenses for their good vision.
When to start myopia management for children?
Some young children develop myopia in their early years, for example before the age of 10. We consider these young children at “high risk” of developing high myopia as adults.
Studies show that kids who have early onset of myopia tend to have their vision worsen quickly and progress rapidly towards high levels of short-sightedness. In fact, the earlier myopia starts, the quicker it tends to worsen.
If your children already have myopia, there are signs to indicate that they might be developing “high myopia”. For instance, when your children require eyesight checks and change their spectacles prescriptions every few months. If this is happening to your children, we recommend you consult an eye-care professional and start myopia control treatment as soon as possible.
What is myopia control for children?
Myopia management or “myopia control” is a part of childhood eye-care. It aims at slowing down early onset myopia, and also to reduce its development. The ultimate objective of myopia management is to have an adult with lower levels of myopia, as compared to a person that did not follow a myopia control program. And therefore, to have a person with lower chances of getting major eye diseases later in life.
An eye-care professional, such as an optometrist, can prescribe special types of spectacles or contact lenses to manage the myopia progression in your child, and slow down vision worsening.
Myopia correction with spectacle lenses
There are special lenses available for children, to help those aged 6 to 18 years of age, when they are in their school-going years. Corrective myopia lenses look just like normal glasses except that they are training your child’s vision and controlling their myopia progression. However, myopia control lenses are very different from regular lenses that correct myopia.
Such lenses have special designs that encourage the child to focus on the centre part of the lenses. With these lenses, the image is projected in front of the retina. By doing so, they reduce the tendency of the eyes to grow in length. And the outcome of such process is a less increase in myopia. The two options that we recommend at Visio Optical are the best Hoya MiYOSMART and also ZEISS MyoVision Pro.
Hoya MiYOSMART myopia control lenses
MiYOSMART are great myopia-control lenses, and they come from the famous Japanese lens maker Hoya. MiYOSMART makes use of the award-winning DIMS (Defocus Incorporated Multiple Segments) technology.
DIMS works by creating a honeycomb design of defocussed areas around the peripheral of the eye lens and keeping the central portion of the lens in clear focus. This is called peripheral myopic defocus. It trains the child to look only through the central focus area and it encourages good vision habits. Myopic defocus effectively slows the elongation of the eye.
We highly recommend Hoya MiYOSMART lenses at Visio Optical in Singapore. If your child already needs to wear glasses, it is a good idea to consider changing the lenses to those that are designed for myopia control in children.
There are other options that we can use to control myopia in children such as special progressive lenses. Some people prefer to use these special progressive lenses to slow down the progression of myopia. But when it comes to the clear field of view, Hoya MiYOSMART lenses provide about 4 times wider field of view when the children are reading. In addition, studies showed that MiYOSMART lenses were more effective for slowing down myopia.
Myopia control with contact lenses
Another option is to use contact lenses. There are a few brands that offer soft and hard lenses that the child can wear to reduce myopia progression. Soft contact lenses are non-invasive, safer, comfortable to use, and easier to get used to.
We highly recommend CooperVision MiSight for your children. They are very effective, and indeed they can control myopia progression as much as Hoya MiYOSMART.
Another option with contact lenses is rigid lenses. Ortho-K contact lenses are one such option. Children will wear them overnight to shape the cornea during sleep. These rigid contact lenses are more invasive and use shaping and focus technology to slow progression. They are also more difficult to fit compared to regular contacts lenses, and children need more follow-up visits to the optometrist.
Some considerations about rigid contact lenses for myopia control are the complications that come with higher risk of eye infections and cornea scarring. Another consideration relates to the so-called kickback increase in myopia that children experience once they stop using ortho-k contact lenses.
Atropine eye drops
There are also pharmaceutical eye drops that contain an active ingredient called Atropine. While they are effective for myopia control, some possible side effects are sensitivity to light and blurry near vision. Atropine eye-drops are effective in myopia control.
For a proper advice on the use of Atropine drops, you should consult an eye doctor. If your child is going to use Atropine drops, you should consider complementing them with spectacles and photochromic lenses (also known as Transitions lenses). This is to protect your children’s eyes when they are outdoor, as they will be more sensitive to light.
What should we do as parents of children with myopia?
While there is no cure for myopia, there are ways to slow the progression of myopia. The first step should be to see an eye-care professional such as a qualified optometrist at a reputable optical store to discuss the pros and cons of each myopia management option. Choose a store that offers myopia control lenses as they are likely to be more knowledgeable on myopia control.
At Visio Optical, we provide eye-care advice for young children. And we look forward to make a difference in the visual development of your children. Our optometrists are experienced, highly reputable, and very good with kids.