Myopia’s progression can be controlled if caught and addressed early. These are the three most common methods currently in use:
- Atropine eye drops
- Used for many years to control myopia, topical atropine is used to dilate the pupil and to temporarily paralyze and completely relax the eyes’ focusing mechanism. There are drawbacks to its long-term use, however: prolonged pupil dilation can cause discomfort and light sensitivity, and can also result in blurred near vision. Patients may require bifocals or progressive eyeglass lenses during treatment to be able to read clearly, since near focusing ability is affected.
- Orthokeratology (“ortho-k”)
- Orthokeratology is the wearing of gas permeable contact lenses during sleep at night to temporarily correct nearsightedness and other vision problems. These specially designed contacts make it so that glasses and contact lenses are not needed during waking hours. Some eye doctors use “ortho-k” lenses, “corneal reshaping lenses” or “corneal refractive therapy (CRT)” lenses to control the progression of myopia in children. Previous studies show that nearsighted kids who had undergone several years of orthokeratology ended up with less myopia as adults, compared with children who wore eyeglasses or regular contact lenses during the peak years for myopia progression.
- Multifocal contact lenses and eyeglasses
- Multifocal lenses are special contact lenses that have different powers in different zones of the lens to correct presbyopia (farsightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye, typically occurring in middle and old age) as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness (with or without astigmatism). Conventional or modified multifocal soft contact lenses also are effective tools for myopia control. In a recent 6-month-long study involving schoolchildren between 7 to 14 years, wearing multifocal contact lenses reduced myopia progression by 54 percent less than in children (in the control group) wearing eyeglasses. In 2013, a similar study revealed that nearsighted children who wore multifocal soft contact lenses daily had 50 percent less progression of their myopia, as compared with similarly nearsighted children who wore regular soft contact lenses for two years.
- Multifocal eyeglasses that were tested for myopia control, however, yielded less impressive results than those produced with multifocal contacts. Several studies conducted from 2000 to 2011 showed that wearing multifocal eyeglasses does not provide a significant reduction in progressive myopia. One study published in 2003, in particular – The Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial (COMET) – found that progressive eyeglass lenses did slow myopia progression, but not significantly so.
We’ve barely scratched the surface on the subject of myopia, its causes, symptoms, and most popular treatments. If you’re curious to learn more, get in touch with professionals who deal with the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.