What is Myopia Management?
Myopia Management is the process of reducing the progression of short-sightedness (Myopia) in children. We do not know exactly what causes children to become more short-sighted but research has shown by wearing specialist contact lenses the progression of myopia can be slowed by around 50% (more in some cases). This means, if a child comes to us with slight myopia, what we would consider a ‘low’ prescription, then with myopia management lenses our hope is by the time they reach adulthood, when their eye stops developing, their prescription will remain within ‘low’ (under -3.00 dioptres) to ‘medium’ (-3.00D to -6.00D) parameters. Without Myopia Management, as was the case until recently, a child would only have worn glasses or standard contact lenses to correct their vision and their myopia would continue to progress at its natural pace meaning the child could reach ‘high’ (-6.00D or more) levels of short-sightedness by the time they reach adulthood.
Why does it matter?
A high prescription means a reliance on contact lenses or glasses at all times, even around the home. In addition to that, and perhaps more worryingly, a high prescription significantly increases the chance of the child developing serious eye conditions in later life, such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal conditions including detachments.
What are the types of contact lenses available and how do they work?
MiSight daily disposables
A relatively new option, these are often considered to be the most popular choice with our patients because they require no cleaning or storing at the end of the day. The lenses are called dual focus lenses meaning that they have different focusing powers for the centre and the periphery of the lens. By changing the focus of light falling on the periphery (edges) of the retina, you can reduce that stimulus for the eyeball to grow and become more myopic. So the lenses do two things. Firstly, they make the child see clearly by correcting the myopia in the centre of the eye and secondly, they have special optics at the edges which changes the focus of the light there, which in turn slows the progression of growth.
These lenses were designed originally many years ago to be worn at night while people sleep and avoid the need to wear and glasses or contact lenses during the day. They are great for children who don’t feel confident to wear lenses at school or who take part in sport like swimming, where contact lenses wear is not possible. They work by reshaping the eyeball as the child sleeps allowing them to see clearly by day . It was only accidentally discovered, more recently, that when the contact lens reshapes the eye it creates the same dual focus as the daily disposable lenses, correcting the central vision and altering the peripheral focus of the eye to slow the progression of eye growth.
Who is suitable for Myopia Management contact lenses?
As soon as myopia is diagnosed, we would recommend speaking to an optometrist about the contact lenses. To be considered for MiSight then children must currently have a prescription of no higher than -6.00D with very little astigmatism. Orthokeratology works best for prescriptions of less than -5.00D, again with little astigmatism. There are however other options if you have a higher prescription or astigmatism so please contact our optometrists to discuss this further.
Children as young as seven wear Myopia Management contact lenses and think that you are the best judge of whether your child would be able to care for them. We are often surprised just how capable young children dealing with their lenses. Our wonderful team of handling experts help build their confidence handling, inserting, cleaning and teaching them how they would handle them out the home e.g. if they got something in their eye during the day. We ensure they are totally confident before allowing them to take them home and then monitor their progress closely. Interestingly, research shows that the risk of infection to children wearing contact lenses is no higher than that of adults and in fact the youngest age group of children may have the lowest risk altogether.
Getting the ball rolling: Myopia Management assessment