Myopia Control

Myopia and Myopia Control Q & A

   Super Vision Center

Myopia is the most common refractive eye issue in the world estimated at 1.5 – 1.6 billion people worldwide. Historically Myopia has been referred to as a refractive error but even low amounts increase the risk of serious eye disorders such as retinal detachment, cataract, and glaucoma.  High myopia is now rapidly becoming the major cause of blindness in some Asian countries.

The good news is that nowadays, with current technologies, we can treat myopia and slow down or halt its progression. That is referred to as “myopia control MC).”

The International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (IAOMC), of which Dr. Berke is a fellow and lecturer, is an organization dedicated to scientific research and education worldwide.  They hold annual conferences with world renowned speakers.

Prior to your next appointment with Dr. Berke at Super Vision Center in Santa Ana, watch these following videos to learn more about myopia and myopia control and what can be done to stop or slow down the progression.

 

What is Myopia and its Dangers?

Myopia is a refractive error in your eyeball.  When you look at near objects they are clear but distant objects are not in focus and are blurry.

Myopia has become one of the major health issues on the planet.  Myopia is now considered as a disease.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now views progressive myopia as an epidemic disease affecting 1.6 billion children and adults worldwide[1] with expectations that the number will hit 2.5 billion by 2020.  50% of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.  It’s an epidemic.  It has gone up 75% in the U.S. since the 1970’s and at current rates there are 400,000 new myopic cases in America per year!  Increasing Myopia not only causes blurrier and blurrier distance vision but more importantly it can significantly increase the odds of developing sight threatening conditions like retinal holes, tears and detachments, macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.  For further information see: www.brienholdenvision.org.

Extensive research has shown that orthoK can slow the progression of myopia reducing the risk of retinal detachment, cataract and glaucoma as well as the social issues associated with wearing thick, heavy glasses. Ironically, the image focused by glasses and conventional soft lenses may actually contribute to the axial length growth of the eye, increasing myopia. For more information go to: www.orthokacademy.com.

What is the Cause of Myopia?

The causes of myopia is both genetic and environmental/behavioral the latter of which accounts for probably 90%, and is blamed on close range activities such as reading and the extended use of modern day high-tech devices, ie computers, smart phones, tablets and gaming devices.  See: D.I. Flitcroft. (2012) The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology. (ABSTRACT)

Early onset of myopia (ages 5 and beyond) notoriously indicates the most rapid increase and is associated with life time eye care and interference with education and normal learning.

Distance vision is blurry because your eyeball is typically too long in measurement from the front to back and the image falling on the retina is not in focus.  Uncommonly you could have myopia because your eye’s cornea or lens is too curved.  Some people have a combination of these issues that result in their myopia. Other symptoms may include having headaches caused by eye strain as you try to focus on objects in the distance.  Near vision is usually great without correction. The landmark study by Earl L. Smith III, OD, showed that peripheral retinal defocus was the cause of myopia progression and that OrthoK lenses bring the peripheral focus back to the plane of the retina thus breaking the feedback loop that tells the eye to stop elongating and stops the myopia progression. Listen to Dr. Earl Smith, OD, PhD as he explains the relationship between refractive error and eye growth:  Dr. Earl Smith

Here’s an amazing graphic (MRI) of what selective eye elongation looks like.

Myopia control (MC) – a cure for nearsightedness?

Why should you be interested in myopia control?  Because stopping or slowing the progression of myopia may keep your child from developing high levels of nearsightedness that require thick, corrective eyeglasses and have been associated with serious eye problems later in life, such as (with -3.00D of myopia):  cataracts (3X RISK compared to no myopia), glaucoma (4X RISK), maculopathy (9X RISK) or retinal detachment. (10X RISK).
Once -5.00D is reached the risks are: cataracts 5X; myopic maculopathy 40X; retinal detachment 22X.

How can I help my child prevent myopia?  Currently, four types of treatments are showing promise for controlling myopia:

  • Orthokeratology (“ortho-k”) – Optical
  • Atropine eye drops – Pharmaceutical
  • Multifocal contact lenses – Optical
  • Spending time outdoors especially doing athletic things like playing tennis or volleyball or anything that requires physical action and peripheral vision judgements.  And, limiting time on central fixation with electronic devices.

Ortho-K is the gold standard for MC.  Evidence suggests nearsighted kids who undergo orthokeratology end up with as much as 85% less myopia compared to children who wear eyeglasses or regular contact lenses during the peak years for myopia progression.

Atropine eye drops have been used for myopia control for many years, with effective results but has significant drawbacks.  Three landmark studies, referenced below, ATOM, ATOM2 and the LAMP studies, basically point out the safety and efficacy of various doses.  Atropine and ortho-k can be combined very effectively when needed in extreme cases. 

Multifocal Contact Lenses afford a similar optical effect as ortho-k but not as precise in controlling myopia and must be worn at all times of waking hours.

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