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Home » Eye Care Services » Eye Library & Vision Quiz » What is Vision? » Controlling Nearsightedness in Children

Controlling Nearsightedness in Children

Often, childhood myopia can worsen year after year.  This change can be disconcerting to both children and their parents, prompting the question: "Will it ever stop? Or, someday will this get so bad that glasses won't help?"  Many doctors simply compensate for the increase in myopia and prescribe a "higher" power in eyeglasses to compensate for the increase in the nearsightedness.   Although this is one way of addressing the problem, there are other ways that may be better and more desirable for many people/parents. 

Myopia that develops in childhood usually stabilizes by age 20.  This is why LASIK is NOT done prior to that point.  If it was done, the person would likely become more nearsighted because eyeglasses or LASIK do not solve the underlying problem of WHY someone becomes more nearsighted.  By then, however, some kids have become very nearsighted.  Below are three possible ways to slow down the progression of myopia in children:

Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

Wearing Gas Permeable contact lenses (also referred to as "RGP" or "GP" lenses) may slow the progression of nearsightedness in children. 

In 2001 to 2004, the National Eye Institute (NEI) conducted a controlled study to determine whether wearing GP lenses is effective in slowing the progression of myopia in children. The 116 participants in the study were 8 to 11 years old when the research began.

At the end of the 3-year study, children who wore GP lenses were less nearsightedness than those in the control group who wore soft contact lenses.

Orthokeratology

Orthokeratology, or "ortho-k," is the use of specially-designed gas permeable contact lenses to flatten the shape of the cornea and thereby reduce or correct mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness. The lenses are worn during sleep and removed in the morning. Though temporary eyeglasses may be required during the early stages of ortho-k, many people with low to moderate amounts of myopia can see well without glasses or contact lenses during the day after wearing the corneal reshaping lenses at night.

Recent research suggests ortho-k may also reduce the lengthening of the eye itself, indicating that wearing ortho-k lenses during childhood may actually cause a permanent reduction in myopia, even if the lenses are discontinued in adulthood.

Bifocals

Properly prescribed bifocal eyeglasses often slow or stop the progression of nearsightedness.  The mechanism here appears to be that the added magnifying power in these lenses reduces focusing fatigue during reading and other close work, a problem that may contribute to increasing myopia.

See us for a consultation

If you are concerned about your child becoming more nearsighted year-to-year, call us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and consultation. We can evaluate the progression of their myopia and discuss the best treatment options with you.

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