Myopia (nearsightedness) is a vision epidemic that is spreading globally. It affects more than a quarter of the world’s population and could affect half of the population within 30 years. It’s important to slow myopia’s progression in childhood because moderate (-3.25 to -5.00 D) and high myopia (greater than -5.00 D) increase the chance of developing such vision-threatening conditions as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and myopic macular degeneration later in life.
Myopia results from the eyeball being too long, causing light to land in front of the retina rather than directly on it. While myopia doesn’t have a cure, it can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. But these prescriptions must regularly be updated as a child’s myopia progresses. LASIK surgery is not an option for children or teenagers because their eyes are still growing.
Why is the myopia pandemic so widespread? Experts point to genetics and also to the fact that many young people spend most of their waking hours indoors. In research studies, children who spent a significant amount of time in the sun experienced less myopia progression than children who did not.
How Can Ortho-K Address a Child’s Myopia Progression?
Ortho-k is a popular treatment option for slowing myopia’s progression. It is safe and painless, using rigid gas-permeable lenses that are customized for your child or teen. Ortho-k lenses are inserted at night and removed in the morning. During that time, they temporarily flatten the eyeball. (Think of it as the optical equivalent of the retainer or bite plate that your child might wear to bed at night to keep teeth straight.) During waking hours, your child can see clearly, swim, and play sports without wearing contact lenses or glasses.
As long as your child handles the lenses according to the instructions of Dr. Colleen Mitchell and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann and observes hygiene protocols when using them — washing hands first, using only the designated solutions to clean and rinse the lenses — ortho-k lenses can be safely used.
Annual eye exams are vital so that Dr. Colleen Mitchell and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann can monitor the rate at which the myopia is progressing. If your children’s vision is rapidly deteriorating, we can offer myopia-management measures to slow myopia’s progression.
Ortho-k is a treatment worth considering for your child’s short- and long-term optical health. One child at a time, ortho-k can help in addressing the worldwide myopia pandemic.
Blacksburg Eye Associates can provide ortho-k expertise to patients in Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, New River Valley, and throughout Virginia.