Myopia (nearsightedness) is a vision problem that causes vision to be blurry in the distance. Nearsighted children tend to squint to see things far away. Sometimes, they compensate by sitting closer in the classroom or stand closer to the tv at home. Nearsightedness in children can worsen year after year which is why it is critical to have a child’s vision checked before school age and make sure they have glasses when this is discovered. I am often asked by parents and the child “will it ever stop increasing?”
Myopia that develops in childhood nearly always stabilizes by age 20. But by then, some kids have become very nearsighted. Scientists discovered ways to slow down the progression of myopia in children. Four possible treatments include: rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses, atropine eye drops, bifocal eyeglasses, and soft bifocal contacts.
Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are a semi-hard material designed to flatten the shape of the cornea and reduce mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness.
These lenses have to be used with caution on kids who are involved in sports. Safety goggles can to be worn with the contacts during sports activities. Gas permeable lenses have been shown to reduce the rate of change in the near-sightedness of children. This process must be closely monitored.
Atropine eye drops are used to dilate the pupils and relax the eyes’ focusing. Research discovered nearsightedness in children to result when the focusing muscles do not work properly. The drops cause the focusing system to relax and the eyes learn to focus without overworking. These drops are not intended for permanent use.
Wearing eyeglasses with bifocal lense slows the progression of nearsightedness in children. The added magnifying power in these lenses reduces focusing fatigue during reading and close work.
Research shows that bifocal contact lenses may also be an effective myopia control treatment, potentially more so than bifocal eyeglasses. The advantage of having the contact is because they will be in the child’s eye from morning until night.
If you know a young child whose prescription keeps getting higher, make sure you ask about options for reducing the child’s nearsightedness with some of the techniques mentioned. We specialize in pediatric eye care and have had many success stories with all of the options mentioned above to reduce a child’s nearsightedness.
If you are in need of an eye care provider, I invite you to visit EnVision Eye Care.