Myopia control is a tiered approach. It begins with lifestyle factors like spending more time outdoors and less time on handheld digital devices. Myopia control tries to control how fast the eye is growing and how quickly the myopia is progressing.
Currently there are three options in myopia control.
- Soft multi-focal contact lenses
Disposable soft contact lenses worn during waking hours correct the patient’s short-sightedness by giving them clear vision at all distances.
The lenses have a ring of defocus in the peripheral part of the contact lens, which puts a ring of mild blur in the patients’ peripheral vision. This signals the eye to slow down its growth. The blur ring is usually not noticed by the patient.
This does not completely stop eye growth but does slow down myopia progression by approximately 50%. The benefit of this treatment is that as the myopia progresses the patient’s contact lens prescription can be easily modified to improve vision.
- Orthokeratology (or orthoK)
OrthoK uses hard contact lenses to reshape the front surface of the eye while the patient sleeps. The corneal reshaping corrects vision through the day without the use of glasses or contact lenses.
These lenses apply pressure onto the cornea via the tear film so the lens itself doesn’t push on the eye and there is no discomfort while you sleep.
Because everyone’s corneal shape is different each orthoK lens must be designed to fit your eye perfectly. This can be complex and can take some time to get the fit right. Depending on the level of short-sightedness, orthoK can take between 1 – 4 weeks to give perfect vision. During this period, we will fit you with soft contact lenses so you will still be able to see properly.
OrthoK lenses can last up to two years if cared for correctly. Typically, new lenses may need to be refitted and replaced every year.
- Atropine sulphate eye drops
Atropine eye drops are a prescription medication from the pharmacy. The drops are used in both eyes every night before bed. The medication in the drop binds to certain receptors in the eye to signal to the eye to stop growing. This treatment option doesn’t correct the blurred vision associated with myopia so glasses or contact lenses are still necessary.
All of these myopia control techniques aim to slow the growth of the eye but will not halt growth completely. The techniques all have a similar effectiveness, but one may be more suited to you or your child.