The United States has a myopia epidemic. The number of school age children wearing glasses is higher than ever before. Different theories of why more children are developing
myopia are the increase in time spent indoors with near point activities, computers, cell phones, television and electronic games. Inherited myopia is but a small percentage of “ school myopia”. Recent studies on the positive effect of spending 2 hours outside in the sun in slowing the progression of myopia show great promise. Typical modalities used to slow the progression of myopia are bifocal glasses, progressive glasses, bifocal contact lenses, atropine eye drops and orthokeratology contact lenses. The most promising in slowing down the progression of myopia is orthokeratology. Atropine drops are very effective but not the first choice of treatment due to the risk of prescribing atropine long term in children.
Orthokeratology contacts fitted and monitored by a qualified doctor, has shown great success in slowing the rate of myopia progression in children. These are ridged gas permeable contacts which are custom designed to flatten the center of the cornea during overnight wear. Upon awakening they are removed, permitting the patient to see without the use of glasses or contacts throughout the day. Most importantly, a molded ring around the central flattening of the cornea creates an area of peripheral defocus on the retina. Studies have shown( Earl L. Smith III ) that this peripheral defocus is what slows the progression of myopia by slowing the axial lengthening of the eyeball.
There are other exiting developments coming in this field, but time is of the essence. The amount of myopia that a child starts with at the time of treatment will not be reversed. Therefore, we start fitting them as young as 7 years old, with the method best suited for their needs. Instruction is given on myopia prevention behavior, correct reading distance, posture and television viewing distance.