It is well recognised that myopia (short sightedness) in children is on the increase. There are several reasons why this might be the case – less time playing outdoors than previous generations alongside more time spent on screens are both known to be factors. A huge amount of research has looked at ways that myopia progression might be slowed down or halted and it’s something that we’ve taken a keen interest in, here at Aves.
We have offered contact lens options for several years, these are contact lenses that young people wear regularly to both make them see clearly and to reduce the rate of progression of myopia. However, new advances in spectacle lenses that also reduce myopia progression, mean that we are now able to offer a full range of options to help short sighted children.
Why Myopia Management is important
Before we look at the treatment options, however, it’s worth spending a few minutes considering who is likely to develop myopia at a young age and why it matters. Children are more likely to develop myopia if a parent is myopic – the risk of myopia is 6 times higher if at least one parent is also myopic. Almost all children are born long sighted, simply because their eyes are small at birth. As the eyes grow, the long sightedness reduces and the ideal outcome is that, by the time the eyes are fully grown, the long sightedness will have reduced to zero. However, some children lose their initial long sightedness too soon – the eyes continue to grow and they become short sighted or myopic. Therefore, it’s important to look at every child’s prescription from a young age and if we see that their childhood long sightedness is reducing quickly, we know that the risk of becoming myopic is higher.
You might wonder why it matters, after all, myopia is relatively common, what’s the risk? Unfortunately, the risk of other eye disease increases as we become more myopic. Glaucoma and retinal detachment are both more likely in short sighted people along with other degenerative conditions of the retina. So, trying to slow down and minimise the degree of myopia anyone develops is incredibly important.
Delaying onset and slowing progression
If we think it’s likely that a child will become myopic, there are a few things we can do to delay the onset, and this comes down to lifestyle advice:
Spend more time outdoors
Spend less time on screens
This is important advice, because if we can delay onset of myopia, we know that the final degree of myopia at adulthood will be lower – the later the onset of myopia, the less time it has to progress.
This brings us onto myopia management. A few years ago, when a child became short sighted, the only option we had was to prescribe glasses or contact lenses to give them the best vision possible – and, of course, we continue to do exactly that. However, some contact and spectacle lenses now offer very sophisticated optics in the periphery of the lens, to help reduce progression of the myopia.
Myopia Management at Aves Optometrists
Stellest are lenses for glasses that have shown a 67% reduction in myopia progression in studies across the world. We are thrilled to be one of the first practices in the UK to dispense these brand new lenses.
MiSight contact lenses are daily disposable contact lenses that work in a similar way and we were delighted to be part of the pre-launch team to try these lenses first in the UK. We have been using MiSight lenses for the past few years.
Ortho K contact lenses have been around a little longer and we have been using them successfully for several years now. These are rigid contact lenses that are worn overnight to safely re-shape the cornea, so that no spectacles or contact lenses are required to see during the day (see section on Ortho K).
Obviously, the best solution will depend on your child and we will discuss the pros and cons of each option to find the best treatment plan for them. If you have any concerns about your child’s sight, please contact the practice to book an appointment for them with one of our optometrists.