Children: Controlling Nearsightedness
As nearsighted children go through their growing years, their prescription can often increase at
significant rates. This means greater dependence on glasses and the chance that they could develop sight-threatening conditions as an adult. Macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachments are all more likely when a person is highly nearsighted. There have been new developments in an area of eye care called myopia control to slow down its progression.
The first method is corneal reshaping using rigid gas permeable lenses. The Dreamlens (dreamlens.com) flattens the child’s cornea overnight while they are sleeping. When they awaken the lens is removed and they can see clearly all day without glasses or contact lenses. This reduces nearsightedness by 40%. When the child becomes an adult, he or she may choose to switch to soft lenses that would be worn during the day or LASIK may be chosen. But the prescription is 40% less than it would have been if they hadn’t worn the Dreamlens.
Another way to control nearsightedness is with soft multifocal contact lenses that we typically fit on adults over 45 years old. The Biofinity Multifocal is a monthly soft lens that also reduces the progression of nearsightedness by 40%. Both of these methods are thought to work by providing a zone of clear central distance vision with an area of peripheral “defocus” that slows down the elongation of the eye which is the main cause of nearsightedness.
Lastly, atropine eye drops in a very low concentration can decrease myopia progression by 60%. These drops are similar to the ones that we use to dilate your pupils during eye exams. But by lowering the dose the child doesn’t get any light sensitivity and blurred near vision. This approach is useful for cases where the child is unwilling or unable to wear a contact lens.
If you have a nearsighted child between the ages of 6-16 whose prescription is progressing rapidly, be sure to ask about myopia control at your next exam.