22 Oct The Facts: Myopia and Orthokeratology
Myopia is a commonly diagnosed vision disorder where objects far away appear blurry while nearby things are clear, hence myopia is commonly called nearsightedness. If you struggle to recognize the details of what’s on the movie screen or television, but see well enough to read what’s on your smartphone, then you may be nearsighted. Below is a list of symptoms and signs of possible vision problems in children suffering from myopia:
- Headaches and eye strain
- Blinking excessively
- Squinting to see clearly
- Unable to recognize distance objects
- Holding objects very close
Today, myopia affects about 42% of the population in the U.S. It is becoming increasingly prevalent at an alarming rate worldwide, particularly among school-aged children in Asia. It wouldn’t be surprising to see 70-80% of students living in urban areas throughout Asia are wearing some form of vision correction (glasses or contact lenses) in the classroom.
Why am I nearsighted?
Heredity plays an important role but not the only one. If both parents are nearsighted, there is a greater risk that their children will be nearsighted too. Children who spend an extensive amount of time on near activities such as reading and using hand-held digital devices appear to have a greater risk of nearsighted. Recent research is suggesting that spending more time outdoors lowers the risk of childhood myopia. So make sure your kids spend a moderate amount of time outdoors.
For most nearsighted children, myopia can gradually worsen, so they need stronger glasses with thicker, heavier lenses year after year. Parents must realize that once their prescription increases, most likely it is permanent and irreversible without intervention. Increasing myopia leads to progressively poor vision and long term devastating complications. In the case of degenerative or pathological myopia, the eyeball elongates or lengthens in a rapid manner causing the amount of nearsightedness to become significantly greater than those diagnosed with low to moderate myopia. The condition increases the risk of retinal detachment, choroidal neovascularization (abnormal blood vessel growth in the back of the eye), and glaucoma, which may result in profound vision loss.
Myopia control with Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)
You must be wondering, is there a cure for myopia? Presently a cure for myopia has not been discovered, however existing treatments namely, Orthokeratolgy (Ortho-K) have shown great promise in slowing down the progression of myopia.
In the FDA clinical study for approval of Paragon CRT lenses, 93 percent of patients were able to see 20/32 vision or better, and 67 percent achieved 20/20 or better. A similar study evaluated children wearing Ortho-k lenses vs. a control group of children wearing conventional soft lenses. The children were followed for two years and the results have shown considerable reduction in the progression of axial length elongation, hence effectively controlling the progression of myopia. Other numerous studies from Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have concluded that Ortho-K slowed the progression of myopia comparing with wearing eyeglasses. The Children’s Overnight Orthokeratology Investigation Pilot Study has proven Ortho-K to be safe and effective for children as young as 8 years old.
Even if your child is not complaining of any issues related to their eyes or vision, it’s very important to schedule comprehensive eye exams regularly. Early detection of myopia is key in controlling future progression especially in this day and age where children are practically spending the entire day engaging in near activities. As mentioned earlier, once the nearsightedness progresses to a higher degree, the increase is likely to remain permanent. Think about the long term costs of needing thicker glasses year after year and the potential complications from developing pathological myopia. Not only does Orthokeratology offer excellent visual outcome, but more importantly it will continue to remain in the forefront in the battle against myopia. Unlike refractive surgery, it is less expensive and less risky. Also, it is not necessary for the patient’s prescription to be stable. And better yet, it’s easily reversible if desired! After all, what’s better than crisp and natural vision with your own eyes?