Myopia, often referred to as nearsightedness, can lead to glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinal detachments. This disease continues rising at an alarming rate among children in the US. In response, we needed to provide a service to help young patients from getting more nearsighted, so we started offering Ortho-K lenses to help slow down myopia in children! We also offer contact lenses and glasses for people seeking more traditional methods for dealing with short-sightedness
Here at Mountain Shadow Vision Center, we primarily use Ortho-K lenses to help children stabilize their prescriptions from getting worse at a rapid pace. For myopia control, Ortho-K (orthokeratology) utilizes painless therapeutic contact lenses that your child will wear while they sleep. They reshape the front surface of their eyes to improve vision, similar to what braces do for teeth!
When your child wears these lenses at night, the back of the lens creates a specific shape and thickness that adheres to their natural tears to create a seal. Overnight, this seal reforms the shape of the cornea. When they wake up, the cornea will have molded into the desired shape to refocus light onto their retina. This painless process gives them clear, natural vision all day long without glasses.
The process typically takes one to two weeks to be fully effective. However, patients often notice a significant difference overnight, and some recover almost immediately! Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child’s myopia management today!
Myopia becomes progressively worse with time. Left untreated, moderate myopia can lead to glaucoma, detached retinas, cataracts, and macular degeneration. In severe cases, the macula tears, which can lead to bleeding retinas, blindness, or loss of vision.
Glaucoma - Damaging the optic nerve in the back of your eye can cause vision loss and blindness over time. The symptoms start slowly and require a comprehensive dilated eye exam to discover.
Detached Retinas - Flashes and floaters in vision may suggest that the retina, the thin layer at the back of your eye, is pulling away from the blood vessels that provide it with blood and nutrients. People also describe a curtain-like shadow covering the whole or parts of their vision or shadows in their peripheral vision. Detached retinas can lead to permanent vision loss without correction.
Cataracts - If the clear part of your eye that helps focus light becomes clouded, your vision may become hazy, less colorful, and blurry. Cataract surgeries can often fix this. Left unchecked, it leads to vision loss.
Macular Degeneration - Part of the retina, the macula, controls straight-ahead vision. While not causing complete blindness, it can make up-close activities like reading, driving, or seeing faces challenging. Vision often blurs or becomes distorted in specific parts of the eye.
Bleeding Retinas - Also known as retinal hemorrhaging, bleeding retinas can cause undetected to severe vision problems. Diseases affecting blood flow like high blood pressure and diabetes can lead to extreme myopia, but often damage comes from a severe hit to the head. Sudden changes in vision should be analyzed shortly after such impacts.
Blindness - At this point, the disease cannot be corrected. Sight becomes severely limited and can progress to complete blindness in different cases.
Loss of Vision - Corrective lenses and surgery can help gradual vision loss, it can also occur suddenly. Getting into a doctor to determine the cause(s) can help them treat or save vision.
Ortho-K lenses may feel odd at first, but they provide painless correction that takes effect quickly.
They usually become fully effective in 10 to 14 days.
Your child will wake up without the need for glasses or contacts.
Both children and teens can benefit from them.
Mild astigmatism can be treated easily.
If your child quits using the lenses, their eyes will not be damaged at all from the treatment, but their vision will return to the state they were in before using the lenses.
Ortho-K lenses offer a great alternative to Lasik surgery.
Children regularly outside often don’t develop myopia as severely. Limiting screen time, using larger screens, taking regular screen breaks, and working in well-lit areas will reduce strain on your child’s eyes and help slow the progression of myopia.
Low Dose Atropine Eye Drops - Applying these drops to the eyes before sleeping can significantly slow myopia’s progress up to half. Most kids report no side effects to mild redness or itching around the eye.
Peripheral Defocus Contact Lenses - Manufacturers design myopia lenses to stop peripheral or off-center light rays from being brought into focus at the back of the eye. Both overnight, such as Ortho-K, and daytime lenses exist to help correct nearsightedness.
Ortho-K Lenses - Check out the Benefits Of Ortho-K Lenses for Myopia Treatment above to learn more about these safe and effective overnight lenses.
Specialist Glasses - The lenses in myopia glasses work differently than normal ones. Many of them have tiny etchings on their surface to focus on slowing the progressive growth of the eyeball. These glasses slow the rate that myopia that affects the long-term eye health of the wearer.
Common signs of nearsightedness include:
Headaches from eye strain
Difficulty driving, especially at night
Fatigued from driving or playing sports
Blurry vision when looking at distant objects
Squinting or partially closing the eyes to see clearly
Unawareness of distant objects
Frequently rubbing eyes
Sitting close to the TV
While doctors typically catch myopia early on, it can develop in adulthood as well. Since most adults finish growing by 18, they become eligible for surgery in addition to the typical myopia treatments for children.
Monitor progression and eye health with annual checkups to check for new issues and monitor conditions.
Wearing contact lenses provides an excellent alternative to glasses or surgery.
Intraocular lenses inserted into the eye can help people with high degrees of nearsightedness.
Atropine drops may be helpful, but they often wear off by the end of the day, leaving night drivers in troublesome situations.
Orthokeratology lenses work great for adults as well.
Surgery works well for many adults, but many requirements and prerequisites must be met to qualify for it:
Lasik surgery often gets recommended over PRK surgery. They use lasers to cut a corneal flap and remove the bed of the cornea before replacing the flap. Most people recover in 1 to 2 days following the procedure.
Lasek surgery uses a process similar to Lasik, but utilizes a special cutting device and ethanol that allows the surgeon to remove less of the cornea for people who have thin corneas.
Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery scrapes off the top surface of the cornea which heals over three to four days following the operation.
What causes myopia?
Many people inherit myopia from their parents/family, but prolonged close up activities like reading, excessive screen time, and a lack of time spent outdoors can all contribute to myopia becoming worse.
Can myopia be prevented?
Since nearsightedness often pops up hereditarily, myopia prevention cannot be expected. However, children often can significantly slow or even stop the progression of short-sightedness using ortho-K lenses or myopia glasses!
How is myopia managed?
To help keep your eyes from getting worse, consider the following:
Always wear your reading glasses when viewing things at an arm distance or closer.
Keep your viewing distance about the length from your elbow to your fist when placed on your chin.
Keep good lighting in your house when reading, watching TV, or using your computer.
Use two light sources in your room: one for the room itself and one for your activity.
Take regular breaks from screens by looking away and defocusing every 5 minutes or so.
Have children take screen breaks every 15 minutes and teenagers every 30 minutes.
Spend an equal amount of time outside as inside.
Try to avoid using small screens as much as possible. Bigger screens tax your eyes less.
Do any exercises your optometrist suggests if they’re prescribing vision therapy.
Can myopia worsen over time?
Myopia regularly worsens with age. If left unchecked, the eyes strain more to do their job and may end up damaged. However, treated from an early age, myopia often slows or even stops progressing as long as the user continues wearing ortho-k lenses at night.
Can myopia lead to other eye problems?
Without treatments or lenses, myopia causes a lot of strain on the eyes. This can lead to Risks Associated with High Myopia that can leave the eyes permanently damaged, leading to severely impaired vision or even blindness.
How often should myopia be monitored?
This question depends on age:
Young children under 7 should be checked annually to determine if any new issues arose. The American Optometric Association suggests having one comprehensive exam before a child reaches 12 months old, one between ages three and five, and annual exams while the child attends school.
7-10 years olds need to be checked yearly since myopia progresses the quickest in this age group. Catching it at this point can significantly slow or stop nearsightedness from progressing.
11 - 17 year olds should still see an optometrist annually to avoid any unwanted surprises and to fix problems as they arise.
After 17, eye exams can drop to an exam yearly unless your optometrist says otherwise. Some children who are progressing in myopia we tend to see them multiple times a year.