What do you think of when you hear the word pandemic? Of course, COVID is the first thing on most people’s minds. However, the world is also suffering from a different pandemic – MYOPIA PROGRESSION.
What is myopia? Myopia is the most common ocular disorder worldwide, it is the leading cause of visual impairment in children, and its incidence is increasing rapidly. Myopia causes distance vision to become blurry as the eyeball becomes longer. Common risk factors for myopia area genetics and lifestyle (particularly increased near activities and increased screen time).
Are there eye diseases associated with myopia? Increasing or progressing myopia has many concerns for the health of the patient. Medically, increased myopia has a higher risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinal detachment. These ocular diseases can cause permanent visual loss. In addition to ocular disease, other disadvantages to increased myopia are the thickness of patients’ glasses and the dependence on glasses/contact lenses which have been associated with reduced quality of life.
What can we do to slow the progression of myopia?
There are lifestyle modifications we can do to help slow the progression of myopia. These include:
- Reduce screen time. One rule we discuss with our patients is called the 20/20/20/2 rule. For every 20 minutes on a screen (computer, tablet, phone, tv, gaming device), take a 20 second break and look 20 feet or further away (in the distance). The final number (2) is for 2 hours of outdoor play daily.
- Increase working distance. When doing near activities, try to increase the working distance between your eyes and your near activity. A closer working distance requires the eye to work harder (accommodate more) to see clearly. Prolonged near activities can cause eye elongation (myopia progression).
There are now multiple options to slow myopia through your eye care provider as well. These include:
- Myopia Management Program. This program uses multifocal contact lenses to slow the progression of myopia. Studies on the MiSight contact lenses are shown approximately 50% reduction in myopia progression. This program is offered at Metrolina Eye Associates.
- Low-dose atropine (eye drop) therapy. This program uses a very low-dose/diluted cycloplegic eye drop nightly to slow the rate of myopia progression. This program is offered at Metrolina Eye Associates.
- Bifocal glasses. This option uses a different distance and near correction in the glasses (bifocals) to slow the rate of progression of myopia. This option is offered at Metrolina Eye Associates.
- Orthokeratology. This program uses rigid gas permeable contact lenses to be worn while sleeping to slow the rate of myopia progression. This option is currently not offered at Metrolina Eye Associates.
Myopia has become a worldwide pandemic, especially amongst our children. We have options available to slow the progression of myopia. Call us today to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Beachkofsky is a certified doctor for the MiSight contact lens approved for myopia management.