A Children’s Health Concern
Myopia, known more commonly as nearsightedness, occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea is too curved. Light entering the eye is not focused correctly and distance objects look blurred. Myopia is growing at an alarming rate in industrialized nations with a 66% increase in the US since 1971.
Myopia can begin to develop in children at age 6 and dramatically slows around age 16. According to the American Optometric Association, children should have a comprehensive eye exam at age 3, 5, and annually throughout school years. Unfortunately, only 7% of children receive a complete eye exam by first grade. Relying on school screenings is not a solution because they are only effective in identifying 5% of vision problems.
Myopia Leads to Vision-Threatening Complications Later in Life
Research shows that catching myopia and correcting it early reduces vision problems later in life. There is a well-established correlation between myopia and increased future risk of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and myopic maculopathy (a type of non-age-related macular degeneration).
Additionally, there is increased risk of myopia occurring any time before age 16 due to prolonged “near” work, e.g., virtual schooling, tablet or computer use. Being vigilant about regular eye exams is critical because, left undiagnosed and untreated, myopia in children can reduce ability for visual learning.
New Treatments Reduce Myopia Progression
Treating nearsightedness with eyeglasses only is now known to not be the best option for children. There are a variety of new options that slow the progression of nearsightedness, thus reducing visual learning problems now or vision-threatening problems later. These include eye drops and orthokeratology lenses (corneal reshaping contact lenses). At Heart of America Eyecare, we offer a variety of contact lenses designed to potentially slow the elongation of the eyeball thus reducing the level of nearsightedness. These include:
- Paragon CRT
- Euclid Emerald
- Bausch & Lomb Moonlens
- VTI’s NaturalVue
- Coopervision MiSight Lens