Encouraging news for the battle against increasing rates of short-sightedness in children
Cameron Optometry is delighted to announce it now has over 50 patients using Myopia Management contact lenses, one of the highest numbers of patients for any practice in the UK. Here clinical lead optometrist, Gillian Bruce, reflects on the positive impact that the revolutionary lenses have had on children in the area.
Explaining Myopia Management
The rates of myopia in children is on the rise. Myopia is expected to affect 50% of the world population by 2050. In the UK the amount of myopia has increased from 10% to 23% of children in the past 50 years. It is widely acknowledged that something needs to be done to reverse this trend. Myopia Management contact lenses are proven to slow the progression of short-sightedness in children. Simply put, this means children will have a lower prescription when they reach adulthood than they would without the contact lenses. A high prescription increases an individual’s chance of developing serious eye conditions such as retinal detachment, in later life, in addition to the daily challenges that a high prescription brings.
The research and results
We read the extensive research before trialling the contact lenses, and were one of the first practices in Scotland to introduce them. The ongoing research firmly supports their effectiveness and we are encouraged to see hugely positive results in our own patients. In many cases, we have found children whose prescription had increased year on year have found their prescriptions stabilise with the lenses, whilst in others their progression of myopia has slowed significantly. The results have reaffirmed the benefits of the lenses, with our own experience adding weight to the effectiveness of the lenses.
The future for Myopia Management
It is hugely encouraging to hit this milestone however there are still so many who are unaware of the contact lenses and they are not widely prescribed. We will continue to promote the benefits of Myopia Management so parents are aware there is another option. The rates of short-sightedness in children continues to rise and worryingly there seems no sign that this will change, so with that in mind, we hope the contact lenses become more widely used and more accessible to all.
As the rates of myopia increase significantly across the world, we expect further developments in Myopia Management and will ensure our practice remains leaders in this field.
What is myopia?
Myopia is the medical term for short-sightedness, when the eyeball is too long or too powerful. The result is that light coming into the eye does not focus directly on the retina (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye), but instead falls in front of it, causing objects in the distance to look blurred. Myopia is traditionally corrected by wearing spectacles or contact lenses. As the eye grows, a person typically becomes more myopic and the power of their spectacle of contact lens prescription increases. Prescriptions over -6DS are considered to be high levels of myopia.
Why do people develop myopia?
Research suggests that a person’s genetics, lifestyle and their day-to-day environment all play a part. People who spend more time doing tasks at a close distance such as working on computers and reading, and those who spend less time outdoors seem more likely to develop myopia. There is a 46% probability of developing myopia if both parents are myopic, 31% with one parent and 22% if no parents are myopic. Females have a greater gender tendency for myopia than males.
Does myopia get worse during childhood?
Yes. Generally, once you have myopia your spectacle prescription gets greater over time, in particular during childhood as the eye grows. The key years of change in myopia are between six and 17 years old with the largest change in prescription typically happening at around seven to eight years and changes getting less as you get older. Generally, myopic children wearing traditional glasses or contact lenses will continue to increase in myopia by approximately 0.50 to 1.00 D (units of measurement) per year. We can use these figures to calculate what we expect a child’s prescription level to be by the time they are in their late teens when change starts to slow or stop. Many people develop myopia later in life, however if a child develops myopia, they are at risk of their vision deteriorating much more quickly and for many more years leading to a higher eventual prescription.
What is Myopia Management?
Myopia Management aims to slow down the progression of myopia in children and young adults through lifestyle changes, the use of specialised contact lenses, eye drops (not currently available in the UK) and in some cases spectacle lenses. It is a relatively new concept although research into the causes of myopia and how to slow its progression has been ongoing for decades. At Cameron Optometry our expertise in contact lenses allows us to provide the most advanced options available based on up to date research. We have now been successfully fitting children with contact lenses for Myopia Management for three years. Research has found the results of Myopia Management through the use of specialised contact lenses, to be effective, with recent studies showing that a 59% reduction in the progression of myopia is achievable. It also concluded that contact lenses are tolerated very well by children.
Myopia Management contact lenses
Myopia Management contact lenses are designed to firstly correct your child’s vision so they can see well and secondly to slow the process of eyeball growth, with the aim of reducing how short sighted they eventually become. The aim of treatment is to slow the rate of decline by around 50%. Myopia Management contact lenses cannot be expected to completely halt the progression, nor can it reduce your child’s prescription from the point at which they start with the contact lenses.
We base our Myopia Management programme on guidance by the International Myopia Institute. In 2019 the Institute gathered together the leading figures in research into myopia and processed all the research on myopia to produce seven papers. If you are interested in further reading into myopia you can access these papers at:
Please get in touch if you would like further information or to make an appointment for a free assessment for your child.