Can You Slow Down the Progression of Nearsightedness (Myopia)?
Yes! Research is showing that there are methods to impede the progression of nearsightedness, but these actions are more effective when applied earlier in a child’s development. Myopic changes to the eye are generally permanent. However, therapy can be done to slow down the development and progression of myopia. Therefore, it is important that children have their eye health assessed at an early age, so that they can reap the full benefits of any potential treatment.
Individuals who are myopic tend to have more myopic children than non-myopic parents, but genetics alone do not determine whether or not an individual will become myopic.
Environmental Causes of Myopia
Environment plays a significant role in the development of nearsightedness. Environmental factors that promote nearsightedness include: consistently performing prolonged periods of near work (reading, computer, iPad, videogames), and not enough time spent outdoors.1 In addition, prolonged dark exposure appears to strongly influence myopia progression.2 Myopia occurs less frequently before children reach school age, but increases significantly during high school and college years. This pattern likely is explained by increased periods of continuous reading and studying in poor lighting conditions. For these individuals, environmental modification including ergonomic adjustments, improved lighting, additional rest breaks and increased periods of physical activity may decrease the rate of myopic progression.3,4
Treatment Options for Myopia Control
- Vision therapy
- Single-vision reading glasses
- Myovision or Myopialux lenses
- Bifocals or Progressive addition lenses
- Multifocal contact lenses
- Orthokeratology lenses
- Visual Hygiene (every 20 minutes of near work, take a 20 seconds break and look 20 feet away)
It is important that we take steps to slow down myopia progression. Myopia can increase the risk of developing glaucoma, retinal detachment and other blinding disorders. The best candidates for treatment are patients who are just starting to develop near-sightedness.
1. Mutti DO, Jones LA, Moeschberger ML, Zadnik K. AC/A ratio, age, and refractive error in children. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2000 Aug;41(9):2469-78.
2. Mutti DO, Sholtz RI, Friedman NE, Zadnik K. Peripheral refraction and ocular shape in children. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2000 Apr;41(5):1022-30.
3. Zadnik K, Mutti DO, Friedman NE, et al. Ocular predictors of the onset of juvenile myopia. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1999 Aug;40(9):1936-43.
4. Daniels K. Consider Ortho-K for myopia control. Rev Optom. July 2012
Updated by Dr. Debbie Luk and Jessica Yang June 2013