Myopia (nearsightedness) is a common vision problem that causes one’s vision to be blurry in the distance. Nearsighted children tend to squint to see things far away. Sometimes, they will 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 so critical to have a child’s vision checked before school age and make sure they have glasses when this is first discovered.
Parents ask “will it ever stop increasing?” Myopia that develops in childhood most often will stabilize by age 20. But by then, some kids have become very nearsighted. Scientists have discovered ways to slow down the progression of myopia in children. Four possible treatments that show promise include rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses, atropine eye drops, bifocal eyeglasses, and soft bifocal contact lenses. Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are a semi-hard material designed to flatten the shape of the cornea and reduce or correct mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness. These lenses have to be used with caution on kids who are involved in certain sports. Safety goggles can to be worn in addition to the contact during sports activities. Gas permeable lenses have been shown to effectively reduce the rate of change in the near-sightedness of children. This process must be closely monitored. CRT lenses are specialized RGP lenses that helps reshape the cornea during overnight wear. In the morning, the contacts are taken out and the vision is improved enough to see clearly throughout the day without wearing glasses or contacts. Atropine eye drops is a medicine used to dilate the pupils and temporarily relax the eyes’ focusing mechanism. Research also discovered nearsightedness in children to result when the focusing muscles do not work properly. The eye drops causes the focusing system to be relaxed and the eyes will learn to focus without overworking. These eye drops are not intended for permanent use, but can be beneficial during the early years. Some evidence suggests wearing eyeglasses with bifocal lenses also slows the progression of nearsightedness in some children. The added magnifying power in these lenses reduces focusing fatigue during reading and other close work. New 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 consistently be in the child’s eye from morning until night. If you know a young child whose prescription keeps getting higher and higher, make sure you ask about options that reduce the child’s nearsightedness by some of the techniques mentioned. My associate specializes in the fitting of the CRT lenses for adults and children, and I specialize in pediatric eye care. There have been many success stories with each of the options mentioned to reduce a child’s nearsightedness. If you are in need of an eye care provider, I invite you to visit EnVision Eye Care. 321 W. Montgomery Crossroads, Savannah (near Hunter Golf Course and VA Medical Clinic). For appointments, call (912) 927-0707 and visit us at www.envisionsavannah.com