What is Myopia?
Myopia – or short sightedness is normally caused by the eye growing longer than average. This means light falls in front of the retina so near objects are clear, but distant objects are blurry. In 2050, it is estimated that nearly 50% of the world will be myopic.
What Causes Myopia?
Myopia is caused by excess growth of the eye. Whilst we don’t know all reasons why this happens; we know it can be linked to.
- Parents or close family members also being Myopic.
- Not enough time spent outdoors
- Spending too much time looking at very near objects, such as phones and computers.
Children’s eye growth has in the past being linked mainly to physical growth of the child; however, this growth process is very suspectable to visual environmental change. It has been strongly linked to urbanization, affluence and higher education. Which is also meaning that myopia in the older age groups of 20-30 is also increasing.
- The higher the myopia the worse your distance vision. (So, the more reliant you will be on your spectacles)
- The stronger your prescription, the thicker, and heavier your spectacles will be.
- The increased growth of your eye will cause a higher risk of eye conditions such as, Glaucoma, Cataract, Retinal Disease, detachments and macula changes.
Screening - Whilst we cannot change our genetics, the sooner we can assess the risk in a child the earlier we can help them. Children will not be regularly screened by their, school, GP or health visitor, but they can have a free NHS eye test every year. Specialist Optometrists can predict visual changes and accurately measure eye growth.
Lifestyle changes are beneficial to all children, but Outdoor time has been proven to reduce myopic progression, and delay onset – as little as 1 hour per day can make a difference.
More than 3 hours of non- schoolwork per day at a distance closer than 20 cm to the eye can accelerate myopia. (Lockdowns have particularly affected this)
So, taking a break at least every 45 minutes and holding near activities further away, can also help slow progression.
Myopia Management. – interventions, are also now available to help.
What is Myopia management?
It is the clinical attempt to slow or halt the progression of childhood myopia. – Myopia is a disease – this is not just about correcting a child’s vision but reducing future risks to the eye. The main methods available in the UK are based on the peripheral defocus theory.
Many studies have shown that a positive lens placed in the peripheral retina, focuses light in front of the retina, tricking the brain into thinking that the eye has grown enough and will therefore slow down growth, and myopia.
This is currently available as soft contact lenses
- MiSight ( Coopervision)
- Natural View (Positive Impact)
- Mylo (Mark Ennovy).
- Spectacle lenses – MiyoSmart – from Hoya.
We are hoping to offer Orthokeratology in the near future.
Atropine eye drops have also been shown to be extremely effective in other parts of the world, these are not yet licensed in the UK for myopia management, but clinical trials are currently ongoing in specialist University and Paediatric eye departments.
There are no more risks than with other existing products already on the market for standard use.
All contact lens wear poses a very mild risk of infection; however, studies have shown the rate of infection for children using these lenses was significantly less than that of an average adult population.
Children may initially report some minor visual blur in their peripheral vision, but will easily adapt to it.
For majority of children these products will firstly be needed for clear sight.
Studies into the myopia management products generally advise 8-10 hours per day, these products can also be interchanged and still have the same positive effects.
This will vary from child to child, and will depend on the age of myopia onset, family genetics, and lifestyle. With the advice from your practitioner, interventions may be tentatively withdrawn after 2 years of no eye growth. It is not advisable to cease use without consulting your practitioner.
All children in the UK Under 16 and in Full Time Education up to 19 are entitled to a free eye examination - This is not a myopia Assessment but is a great place to find out about your child’s eyes. If a spectacle prescription is found necessary, they will then be entitled to a voucher towards the cost of these.
At the present Myopia Management is not financially supported by the NHS so any products, and specialist services would be paid for privately (the NHS voucher can be used towards this if appropriate)
Prices will vary from product to product so please consult your Myopia practitioner directly.
We take an individual approach for each child, so an initial consultation would be advised to take specialist measurements and discuss the options available for your child. Please call the practice to book or if would like further information.