Parents are often worried about their children’s nearsightedness (myopia) progression. Nowadays, approximately 40% of children will develop myopia compared to 25% during the 1980′s.
There are 3 different types of myopia
1. Pathological myopia – Occurs early in life with little progression (Congenital)
2. School myopia – Begins between ages 8-12 and progresses dramatically
3. Adult-onset myopia begins at age 18 or older
Genes vs. environment
Studies have shown that myopia has strong genetic and environmental components.
1. Genetics – Studies have shown that a child with parents without myopia has a 10% chance of developing myopia. With one parent, it’s 25% and with two parents, it’s 35%.
2. Environment – In school settings, progression of myopia was increased by 50%. Lack of outside sunlight exposure is a strong risk factor for development of myopia
Progression and treatment
1. Bifocal and progressive addition lenses
According to the COMET study, children that wore single vision had a mean progression of -1.48D in 3 years compared to the progressive group of -1.28D. Even though it’s statistically significant, clinically, it’s not. This means that wearing bifocals or progressives may not help prevent further myopia.
Sometimes parents may to have a lower prescription for their children because they feel they might be dependent on their glasses. But research shows that undercorrection may increase myopia progression.
This type of lenses have show a 30%-50% reduction in the progression of myopia.
4. Vision therapy
Vision therapy, also know as vision training, is used to improve vision skills such as eye movement control, eye focusing and coordination and the team work of the two eyes. There is no long-term study available to show that vision therapy can slow down the progression of myopia.
Studies have shown that 1% atropine can slow the progression of myopia by almost 95%. Atropine knocks out the focusing ability of the child and somehow blocks the signal that results in the elongation of the eye. However, atropine does have side effects which include loss of accomodation (focusing) and photophobia (sensitivity to light). Recently, studies have shown that 0.025% or 0.01% used once daily is just as effective as 0.5% atropine. However, atropine treatment is not used on a regular basis in Canada.
If you are concerned about your child’s progression of myopia, bring your child in for an annual comprehensive eye exam at Avenue Eyecare.
Vancouver Kerrisdale Optometrist
Contact Avenue Eyecare to book your appointment today.