Myopia Control – A Cure for Shortsightedness?
If your child has myopia (shortsightedness), you’re probably wondering if there is a cure — or at least something that can be done to slow its progression so your child doesn’t need stronger glasses year after year.
For years, eye care practitioners and researchers have been wondering the same thing. And there’s good news: A number of recent studies suggest it may indeed be possible to at least control myopia by slowing its progression during childhood and among teenagers.
What Is Myopia Control?
Although an outright cure for shortsightedness has not been discovered, your optician can now offer a number of treatments that may be able to slow the progression of myopia.
These treatments can induce changes in the structure and focusing of the eye to reduce stress and fatigue associated with the development and progression of shortsightedness.
Why should you be interested in myopia control? Because slowing the progression of myopia may keep your child from developing high levels of shortsightedness that require thick, corrective lenses and have been associated with serious eye problems later in life, such as early cataracts or even a detached retina.
Globally, four types of treatment are showing promise for controlling myopia:
- Atropine eye drops
- Multifocal contact lenses
- Orthokeratology (“ortho-k”)
- Multifocal spectacles
Nearly Half Of The Global Population May Be Shortsighted By 2050, Researchers Say
February 2016 — Researchers at the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney, Australia, recently pored over data from 145 studies and analysed the prevalence of myopia and high myopia among 2.1 million study participants. The group also used data published since 1995 to estimate trends from 2000 to 2050.
What they found was alarming.
An estimated 1.4 billion people worldwide were shortsighted in 2000. That’s about 23 percent of the total global population. But by 2050, the researchers predict this figure will soar to 4.8 billion, afflicting 49.8 percent of the world’s population.
The good news is, there are ways to protect your children from landing on the wrong side of this statistic. One key may be to encourage them to turn off their electronic devices and head outdoors.
The study points out that the projected increases in myopia are driven principally by lifestyle changes characterised by more near-work activities, like using computers and portable electronic devices, including smartphones. Other proposed risk factors for myopia include long hours spent in the classroom and less time outdoors, especially among young children in countries such as Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and China.
Although the vision of most people with shortsightedness can be corrected with glasses and contact lenses, high levels of myopia increase the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment and myopic macular degeneration — all of which can cause irreversible vision loss.
The study report authors concluded that the prevalence of high myopia is likely to increase seven-fold from 2000 to 2050, which would make myopia a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide. The report appeared online on the website of the journal Ophthalmology.