Genetics play a large role in the development of short-sightedness, but it is also influenced by near work activity and the amount of time your child spends outdoors. The closer you focus your eyes (e.g. when reading, on the computer, or playing on a phone/tablet), the harder your eyes have to work. Continued stress in this way forces your body to find a way to make near tasks easier, which is exactly what short-sightedness is. Your body develops in a way that lengthens the eye ball to optimise vision for near; the only catch is it sacrifices your long distance vision.
Because of the lengthened eye, this predisposes you to:
- Early onset cataracts
- Retinal detachment
- Myopia-related macular degeneration
- Myopia-related glaucoma
High prescriptions also have the disadvantage of:
- Lower tolerance of spectacles (e.g. headaches, lower clarity)
- Higher cost for spectacle lenses
So what can be done?
1. Increase time outdoors
Studies show that children who spend 1-2hours/day outdoors in the sunlight are much less myopic than those who don’t. So you should try to aim for a 1:1 ratio of gadget time to outdoor play. I.e. 1 hour on the iPad = 1 hour outdoors e.g. family picnic, ball games, swimming, skipping, beach, going for a walk, play ground, playing in a park, outdoor play in recess, chatting – the options are endless!
2. Use of Ortho-K lenses.*
This treatment is currently the best scientifically proven method to controlling the progression of nearsightedness.
Ortho-k is a type of special contact lens, which you would wear while you are sleeping and remove upon waking. Ortho-K lenses are designed to progressively shape the central surface of the cornea systemically, similar to the effect of laser in reversing shortsightedness. After wearing the lenses your cornea becomes the correct shape to accurately focus light, which enables you to see clearly without assistance. The effect of Ortho-k is temporary and reversible.
- Myopia Control successful in 50% of patients relying solely on Ortho-K (success rate is higher when combining with environmental and behavioural changes)
- Great for patients who don’t want to wear glasses or contact lenses during the day
- It is a non-surgical alternative for myopia management
- It is safe with few, if any complications
- It is reversible, with your cornea shape returning to its original state within a few days after discontinuing lens wear
- Very easy adaptation with only overnight lens wear required
- Great for patients who suffer from dry eyes with contact lenses
Who is suitable?
- Those who have short sightedness less than -6 and long sightedness up to +3 and astigmatism less than -3.5 dioptres are suitable.
- Motivated patients.:
- Successful reshaping also depends upon the degree of curvature of the cornea and other individual factors. We will need to carry out tests to determine whether you are a suitable candidate.
3. Atropine eye drops.
This treatment involves instilling 0.01% atropine eye drops in each eye at night before bedtime. The drops dilate the pupil and temporarily relaxes the eye’s focusing mechanism. This is a short-term option which can relieve the focusing fatigue of children’s eyes, which research suggests may be linked to nearsightedness.
This treatment method has been adopted in many parts of East Asia, with up to 50% of myopic children using atropine eye drops in Taiwan. The child will still need to wear their spectacles as normal.
- Demonstrated maximum level of long term myopia control out of all other treatment options available
- Slows myopia progression by 50% over 5 years in children.
We recommend regular eye tests every 12 months for school-aged children to keep a tab on their eye health and risk of myopia progression. It would be our pleasure to assist in booking an appointment for you!
Please call on 3345 3383 to book an appointment to discuss the most suitable options for you and your child’s lifestyle. You can now also visit our website for more information.