Myopia, or nearsightedness, is one of the most common conditions our optometrist treat at Great Hills Eye Care. Exciting changes are happening in how we think about myopia and how it is treated. Myopia occurs when the eye incorrectly focuses light in front of the retina instead of on the retina. The causes distance vision to be blurred. Myopia is a progressive condition with two main types.
Child onset myopia typically begins around age 7-9 and changes by an average of 0.75 diopters (unit of optical measurement) per year. This type of myopia can occur because of genetics and also may be due to an environment with increased near vision demands and/or less time spend outside.
Adult onset myopia typically begins around age 18-25 and is usually slower to progress. This type of myopia may also have a genetic component but is many times associated with increased near vision demands.
Myopia is a worldwide epidemic. Near vision demands are increasing as the use of computer, smartphones, and tablets become a larger portion of our day. In the United States alone 40% of the population is myopic. This number has greatly increased over the previous two generations. It is projected that by the year 2050, 50% of the world population will be myopic. That is a staggering 5 billion people!
Traditional treatment for myopia has involved prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses to focus light on the retina and give the patient clear vision. These traditional treatment methods were not designed or intended to slow the progression of myopia. Why then is it important to try and slow the progression of myopia? Vision becomes increasingly blurred as the level of myopia increases. At a relatively early stage of myopia, this makes driving, watching TV, and navigating the environment almost impossible without the use of eyeglasses or contact lenes. There are also potential health risks associated with increasing levels of myopia. People with myopia are at higher risks of retinal detachment, myopic maculopathy, glaucoma, and other sight threatening retinal conditions. For these reasons, it is important to approach myopia in young people with a goal of preventing or slowing down progression.
Some methods have already been in use as off-label treatments for myopia control. These include:
Orthokeratology – this method uses a specialty hard contact lens to “hold” the shape of the cornea and aid in slowing down the progression. This type of lens is worn while the patient is sleeping and then removed during the day. In addition to the benefits of potentially slowing down the myopia progression, this method also corrects the myopia by shaping the cornea, allowing the wearer to have clear distance vision during the day when the lenses are not being worn. This type of treatment requires dedications by the doctor, patient, and parents to ensure the lenses are worn correctly and that the condition is followed regularly so that adjustments in treatment can be made as needed.
Soft Multifocal Contact Lenses – Another off-label use involves using contact lenses intended to correct Presbyopia (loss of focusing as we age) for altering how light focuses on the retina. Using this type of lens may be more comfortable for the wearer than hard lenses and they allow clear distance vision while wearing the lenses. While not amount of myopia control can be guaranteed, there is an opportunity to reduce the progressions in some patients by utilizing this approach.
Atropine Eye Drops – This method involves the use of specially formulated prescription eyedrops in order to help slow down the progression of myopia. This method may be used in conjunction with orthokeratology or soft multifocal contact lenses.
There is a new breakthrough treatment option on the horizon called the MiSight contact lens. On November 15th, 2019 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first contact lens indicated to slow the progression of myopia (nearsightedness) in children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old at the initiation of treatment. The MiSight contact lens is a single use, disposable, soft contact lens that is discarded at the end of each day and is not intended to be worn overnight. The MiSight study showed an over 50% reduction of myopia progression in the treatment group. At Great Hills Eye Care we are looking forward to implementing this first-of-its-kind FDA approved contact lens technology.
Dr. Provost, Dr. Carneglia, Dr. Tillotson, and Dr. Patel are excited about the changes in myopia management and are dedicated to offering our young patients the best opportunity of slowing their myopia progression. The MiSight lens will be part of a structured myopia management program to ensure the best results. We will update this page and will be contacting all of our patients that may be candidates for the MiSight lens once it becomes available.
The first step in managing myopia is to schedule a comprehensive eye examination with one of our highly trained and dedicated optometrists. Call or text our office to request an appointment or click the button below to request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you and your family see clearly and keep your eyes healthy!