Myopia, or more commonly known as short sightedness, is becoming more and more prevalent in our younger population. The exact reasons remain unknown but there have long been theories such as excessive exposure to near objects, lack of natural light, family history and ethnicity to name just a few. Where as in the past being short sighted meant just needing to wear glasses to see clearly in the distance, research over many years is showing that an increase in the level of myopia is causing eye conditions which can be preventable if the level of change in myopia is somehow managed.
Over the last few years, in our experience in other practices, we noticed an increase in the number of children becoming short sighted. Many of these children showed larger increases in the level at much shorter intervals than normal. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has especially shown this trend and the link seems to be excessive exposure to digital devices and lack of natural light from being outdoors.
The incidence of myopia is expected to increase significantly globally with the aforementioned factors playing a part. It is therefore important that we try and manage the rate at which your child’s myopia is increasing.
Why is it important to manage myopia?
Being myopic doesn’t just mean the eye can’t see far objects. The eye ball itself is longer and larger than the standard or normal eye. If we use a balloon as an analogy, the bigger the balloon is blown, the thinner the balloons layer becomes and the more likely a break will occur. This is exactly what is happening in a myopic eye. The layers of the retina stretch as the eye grows and this can cause retinal thinning, an increase in the chance of retinal detachments, an increase in myopic maculopathy (damage to the central, sight-seeing part of the eye), increased risk of glaucoma and many more. Trying to reduce the rate at which the eye becomes myopic will have a significant decrease in the chance of the eyes becoming susceptible to these conditions as the eyes get older.
What are the correction options?
The traditional way of correcting myopia is through the use of single vision lenses which focusses a sharp image on the central part of the eye. However, what was found is that the peripheral retina receives a blurred image. This blur causes the eye to grow and elongate trying to get a clear image in the periphery. This in turn increases the power required to correct the central vision – and so the cycle continues.
Extensive research has shown that if this peripheral blur is counteracted, to bring the peripheral focus in front of the retina, then the rate at which the myopia increases can be reduced by up to 50%.
At The Eye Zone, we are able to offer two options for our younger population:
Miyosmart Spectacle Lenses
Following research by Professor Carly Lam in Hong Kong, she designed a spectacle lens which has a clear central zone with islets, or D.I.M.S (Defocus Incorporated Multiple Segments) of peripheral blur. This technology has shown a reduction in the rate of increase of myopia by up to 60% over a 2 year study. By using these spectacle lenses, the central part of the lens provides the sharp image, and the peripheral parts provide the defocussed image, thus a dual functioning lens. Most children in this research found no adaptation issues with them which is great. The lenses themselves are made of a polycarbonate material so they are tough in nature which helps reduce the likelihood of damage and breakage and being polycarbonate means they are lighter in weight. The automatic addition of an anti-reflection coating reduces excess glare coming off digital devices or the television, thus increasing the clarity of the vision.
MiSight Contact Lenses
We can offer patients these contact lenses which have proven to reduce the rate of myopia by an average of 59% over a 3-year period. These contact lenses are based on the same principles of peripheral defocus. These are daily disposables lenses, so fewer concerns about infections and reactions, these contacts lenses are made up of clear or treatment zones.
We are also able to fit monthly myopia management contact lenses which again are based on the above principles.
You may prefer your child to have a combination of spectacles and contact lenses. We have found this to be common in children who participate in regular sports as glasses can be a nuisance. This is something that we can help you do. The essence of myopia management is to be able to treat it at all hours of the day and in all external environmental circumstances.
We are happy to discuss these options in much more detail. Please call us for more information or an informal chat. Fees may apply for consultations as at present they are not covered under the standard NHS eye examination.