For the most part, myopia is a mildly irritating refractive error which requires the individual to wear glasses or contact lenses to help with distance vision. Undiagnosed myopia can lead to headaches, fatigue and dizziness, so it’s important that you have your annual eye exam every 12-24 months (annually, for children and senior citizens) to ensure that you are properly diagnosed and given the appropriate treatment advice.
This is the most valuable course of action you can take, as only expert optometrists can advise you on how to proceed in terms of treatment and management of the condition.
While experts cannot identify any definite cause for the increasing numbers of children developing myopia, it is thought to be linked to our predilection for spending most of our waking hours staring at digital screens.
Myopia may progress to a point where your vision is severely compromised to the point that your vision is beyond correction, though short of blindness.
For such reasons, research is ongoing in the hunt for a means of stopping myopia progression. There are some very useful products on the market already, and clinical trials are ongoing throughout the world in search of a cure.
It’s also known as shortsightedness, and is caused by an unusual elongation of the eyeball which changes its focal length. For mild cases, this is easily corrected using contact lenses or glasses; laser treatment is an option if desired by the patient.
Unfortunately, myopia can also worsen and become more severe over time. Research is ongoing in the search for a treatment which will stop the eyeball from continuing to elongate, and thus maintain the refractive error at a controlled level.
Many parents are concerned about upgrading their child’s prescription to more powerful lenses as myopia progresses; there is a well-circulated myth that using stronger lenses (to correct their vision) promotes faster progression of the disease. This appears to be completely unfounded.
We advise that you investigate proven methods of reducing myopia progression, such as orthokeratology, and update your child’s prescription as required in the meantime.
This is generally considered the most successful (current) method for halting the progress of myopia, normally in children. Gas permeable (GP) lenses are placed over the eyes, but are used overnight, as opposed to during the day like normal lenses.
They work by applying pressure to the eye, and temporarily reshaping the cornea such that the refractive error is alleviated. This practice is intended to fix the problem for a number of hours (i.e. while we are awake) and should be repeated every single evening. In the long term, it’s possible that the eyeball could be permanently reshaped and the need for overnight GP lenses removed.
This type of treatment is not yet approved, but research is well underway in various countries. It involves using a special kind of eye drop which is designed to significantly reduce the progression of the disease. In time, this will hopefully become an FDA-approved means of controlling myopia.