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Flattening the Curve: Ortho-K is an Answer to Battling the Myopia Epidemic

Mom Daughter Child Eye HealthYour child is likely spending more and more time on computer or digital devices.  This can be overworking your child's visual system in a way it was not intended to work.  This can promote your child to become nearsighted.

Myopia (nearsightedness) is a vision epidemic that is spreading. It affects more than a quarter of the world’s population and could affect half of the population within 30 years. The reason it is important to slow myopia progression in childhood is because moderate (-3.25 to -5.00 D) and high myopia (greater than -5.00 D) increase the likelihood that you child will develop vision-threatening conditions as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and myopic macular degeneration later in life. 

Myopia, (nearsightedness) has traditionally been COMPENSATED for by wearing prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. Please note that eyeglasses and contact lenses do NOT CORRECT vision.  If they did, then children would NOT be getting more nearsighted each year.

When a child becomes more and more nearsighted over time, that is called progressive myopia. LASIK surgery is not approved for children  because their eyes are still growing.  Often parents say: "I will just wait until my child gets older and then they can have LASIK".  They say this thinking that LASIK does not have any negative consequences.  The fact is that most adults that have had LASIK, ultimately need eyeglasses.  LASIK makes the cornea THINNER so the person can see more clearly shortly after the surgery, but often that benefit is short-lived.  LASIK cuts a perfectly healthy tissue and once it is thinner, it is more prone to then bulging out afterwards.  The term for that is ECTASIA.

Why is myopia so widespread? To a small degree, it can be associated with genetics, but the larger reason is how we use our visual system.  Again, eyeglasses merely compensate for how light is bent.  It does not change how the eyes continue to over-focus.  It is the over-focusing that produces the increase in myopia.  When children spend many hours indoors, focused on a screen, that has pixels rather than print, that is a trigger for the myopia to increase. Research studies say that children who spent a significant amount of time in the sun experienced less myopia progression than children who did not.  The reason is NOT that the outdoors reduces the progression, but rather, the reason is that those children are then not spending as much time looking at a screen.

How Can Ortho-K Address a Child’s Myopia Progression?

Ortho-k is an FDA approved, safe, and popular treatment option for slowing myopia’s progression. Special custom lenses are designed to create non-permanent changes in the cornea.  The lenses are made of a special gas permeable material that allows oxygen to pass right through them makes them very safe.  This material allows even more oxygen through and does a soft contact lens.  These lenses are designed specifically for each person and are customized based on the unique shape f each person's cornea.

Ortho-k lenses are worn at night and removed in the morning, much as a mouth retainer is worn at night and removed in the morning once someone's teeth have been straightened after wearing braces.  When the child or adult wakes up, they then remove the night retainer lens and they are able to see clearly throughout the day.  More importantly, the power does not increase, especially if combined with Vision Therapy.  You, or your child can see clearly, swim, and play sports without wearing contact lenses or glasses. 

We at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, NJ, take great measures to make sure that our patients, both adults and children, understand how to care for their lenses.  We stress the importance of washing hands first before inserting or removing the lenses, and using only the designated solutions to clean and rinse the lenses.   First and foremost, Ortho-k is safe. 

Annual eye exams are extremely important so we, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge NJ can monitor and solve small problems before they ever have a chance to become a bigger problem. Lenses are replaced every year, much as a toothbrush is replaced periodically.  

Other components within myopia management include Vision Therapy, Special Soft Contact lenses (MiSight and Natural Vue) and Atropine.  

Ortho-k should be considered for your child’s short- and long-term ocular health. 

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge NJ have treated thousands of patients, both children and adults, throughout our area in the towns of Old Bridge, Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Manalapan, Matawan, Marlboro, Monroe, Parlin. Sayreville, South Amboy, South River, Spotswood, Lawrence Harbor, Cliffwood Beach, and throughout New Jersey.


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