CAN YOU SLOW THE EYE’S CONSTANT GROWTH DURING CHILDHOOD AND SUBSEQUENTLY REDUCE THE INCREASE IN MYOPIA (Short sightedness)?
SO WHAT METHODS ARE AVAILABLE AND DO THEY WORK?
BIFOCAL and VARIFOCAL SPECTACLES
It would appear that the use of bifocal and varifocal spectacle lenses may reduce the rate of growth within the eye. The studies we have looked at suggest that the reduction achieved by this method is at best very small.
UNDER CORRECTING THE DISTANCE PRESCRIPTION
In some countries it has been common practice to not use the full myopic (short sighted) prescription when prescribing children with spectacles or contact lenses in the hope that this will encourage a reduction in myopic (short sighted) growth. Studies now show that this method is not only unsuccessful but that there is a possibility of making the myopia (short sightedness) worse.
Several studies have shown that by instilling Atropine eye drops a reduction in myopic (short sighted) growth can be achieved. It achieves this by temporarily paralyzing the near vision focusing muscle within the eye. However there can be some side effects. As well as paralyzing the focusing system Atropine also causes the pupils to be fully dilated this can create some problems with sensitivity to light and can even contribute to social problems at school with children whose eyes may look slightly odd.
DUAL ZONE (MULTI-FOCAL) SOFT CONTACT LENSES
This is by far our most favoured method. It has been shown that the use of this type of contact lenses can reduce the growth in a child’s eye by as much as 50%. This of course means that any increase in myopia (short sight) can be significantly reduced. The other great advantage of this method is that these lenses are available in soft, disposable type formats, which makes them both comfortable and affordable. There are a number of multi focal type lenses on the market and it is essential that the correct power combinations are used in order for the myopia (short sightedness) to be controlled but providing you find an experienced contact lens practitioner the fitting of these lenses is relatively simple.
CORNEAL RESHAPING RIGID CONTACT LENSES – ORTHO K
This is a system that uses a specially shaped rigid contact lens, worn over night to reshape the cornea and allow for clear vision through out the next day. We know that the visual correction is not permanent and to ensure clear vision is achieved the lenses would need to be worn every night otherwise the normal myopic (short sighted) vision returns. Some studies have shown that the use of this technique, when used in the eyes of myopic (short sighted) children, may be successful in reducing the eyes’ natural growth and therefore their myopia (short sightedness). The studies are still ongoing but this method is looking more promising but your child will need to wear a rigid and therefore less comfortable lens over night.