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Myopia Control & Ortho-k Lenses

Your Washington, DC, Optometrist Explains the Why’s and How’s of Controlling Myopia

Myopia, the official name for nearsightedness, is being diagnosed more and more around the world. To give you a picture of how prevalent this vision has become – from 1970 to 2005, the number of Americans (aged 12-54) with myopia almost doubled from 25% to nearly 50%! Chances are, even if you are not nearsighted, someone in your family is. Learn more about myopia and why it can be problematic.

When does myopia start?

Usually, nearsightedness appears during the “tween” stage, between 8-12 years old. Throughout teenagehood it will typically progress, and kids often need a new, stronger prescription for their eyeglasses or contact lenses every year. Many children and their parents are troubled by this deterioration of vision. However, is there anything to do other than continue to buy new eyeglasses? In short, yes. There is myopia control, and our optometrist in Washington, DC, has prepared the following explanation of this therapy.

How is myopia control done?

This type of vision treatment has been a trendy topic in recent years. Various methods of slowing or halting the progression of nearsightedness have been developed and studied. One of the most popular types of myopia control is orthokeratology, AKA Ortho-k or Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT).

Orthokeratology / CRT

Many eye care professionals claim that this method is proving to be the most effective means of myopia control. Ortho-k lenses are rigid gas permeable contact lenses that mold the cornea gently as you sleep. By reshaping the cornea into a flatter shape, they correct refractive error, thereby eliminating myopia temporarily. When you remove the ortho-k lenses upon awakening, the sharp vision results remain during the daytime. This means that if you are nearsighted, you’ll be able to see crystal-clear without putting on eyeglasses.

Scientific studies show that when kids and teens wear ortho-k lenses, these specialized contacts suppress the myopia progression. They work in a manner similar to a brace that reshapes the cornea and preserves the new shape for a few days. Yes, the eye will eventually return to its original form within a few days of discontinuing ortho-k. But after a child wears these lenses nightly from age 8 until age 18, the cornea will return to the shape it was at 8 years old. Therefore, the child’s cornea will never reach the severe levels of myopia that might have been if ortho-k lenses were never worn.

Why is myopia control important?

You may be wondering about the reasons to do myopia control. Is it just to avoid the inconvenience and expense of wearing glasses and getting new lenses each year? No, that’s not the full picture. As bothersome as eyewear may be, it isn’t the worst problem linked to myopia progression.

Recent scientific research identified a strong correlation between high myopia and many sight-threatening eye diseases. Extreme nearsightedness has been associated with a raised risk of the following conditions in the future:

  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal detachment and retinal tears
  • Cataracts, and a decreased rate of success with cataract surgery

Myopia Control and Your Child

Does your kid need a stronger lens power with each eye exam? Now that you’re aware of the dangers of high myopia, it’s time to consider reaping the benefits of myopia control. The first action you need to take to protect your child’s vision is to schedule a comprehensive pediatric eye exam. During this visit with our optometrist in Washington, DC, we’ll determine if your kid is a good candidate for myopia control.

While ortho-k is the most common form of slowing myopia, there are other methods, such as wearing multifocal contact lenses or administering atropine eye drops. Depending upon your kid’s condition and lifestyle, our eye doctor will recommend the most effective, healthiest method.