Myopia or nearsightedness is a major concern for Blindness.
It’s becoming a serious offence if the optometrists are not telling their patients about options to control children’s myopia or nearsightedness; these are the words of Mr Pieterse, a concerned Optometrist doing myopia control in the Johannesburg Westrand area!
Why is it that more and more Kids become nearsighted; being able to see a cellphone screen or their near work easily but battling to focus clearly in the distance?
Did you know that kids with one parent being nearsighted or myopic are almost three times more likely to be nearsighted when they go to high school?
The prevalence of myopia builds up to seven times more likely if both parents are wearing spectacles or contact lenses. Myopia is a great problem since it greatly increases the child’s risk for major eye problems!
For years myopia has been put down as not being a serious issue and China is one of the leading countries paying a high price for this reality. The newest research confirms Myopia prevalence in children is now seen as an epidemic. China presents with the highest number of myopic children showing more than 80% of school kids now have to wear spectacles for better distance vision. In Australia studies show that the risk for a 12 year old being nearsighted has doubled in the last 6 years. It is also predicted that 36% of Australians will be myopic at the end of 2020, and this number is seen to increase to 55% by the year 2050.
This is a major concern for your child’s general eye health and the question is no longer if we should do myopia control but rather what would be the best way to intervene getting a grip on the progression of this disease. Our inability to intervene leaving myopia untreated puts our people at risk for many vision-threatening conditions including retinal detachment, early cataracts, macular complications, high intra ocular pressure and even blindness.
Luckily we now have Ortho K contact lenses and the stats show that the 3 top ways to control or prevent myopia progression are 1) Ortho k RGP Contact lenses 2) Soft multifocal contact lenses and 3) Specialized myopia control spectacle lenses.
Ortho-k or Orthokeratology contact lenses are the newest technology and have been shown to be the most effective way for myopia control since it’s been shown to be safe and reduce the progression rate by 40-55%. These lenses are a non-surgical alternative and the specially designed contact lens that gently alters the cornea or surface of the eye. Lenses have to be worn at night, and have shown to be as safe as soft contact lens wear.
Additional benefits apart from correcting the vision, is that children’s self-esteem improves and their ability to play all sports. Parents also don’t need to be concerned about their child losing spectacles or contact lenses during the day since the corrective lenses are worn at night, giving spectacle free vision during the day.
In a recent study published in 2017, reviewing 200 children wearing ortho-k lenses , it was found that kids were more happy and satisfied compared to those wearing specs; considering cosmetic appearance, overall vision, academic performance and peer perception. Another interesting find was that the parents of the children wearing ortho-k lenses preferred that they continue wearing the new contact lenses option.
Spectacles and multifocal soft lenses offer much less myopia control but is still an option since approximately 12-19% reduction is still significant compared to not taking any action.
In conclusion; speak to your optometrist about these options. Sadly very few optometrists in South Africa do myopia control, and more specifically ortho-k lenses due to the significant extra time and effort it takes for Optometrists to become confident with Ortho-k options. More than 900 000 patients worldwide have now been fitted with ortho-k lenses and hopefully eye care professionals in S.A will catch up with modern times to offer myopia control to parents.
More information can be obtained at myopiaprevention.com, www.myopiaprofile.com , www.pieterseoptom.co.za › orthokeratology or 010 100 3824 (S.A – Westrand)