How common is myopia?
Myopia is very common. According to the WHO ( World Health Organization ) myopia affecting 30% of world population.
This number is rapidly rising, especially among school-aged children. Eye experts expect this trend to continue especially during the Pandemic.
What causes myopia?
Eye experts are still unsure of the exact cause of myopia, but believe it to be a mix of hereditary and environmental factors.
Myopia in kids tends to progress or get worse throughout childhood, and higher levels of myopia are associated with higher eye disease risks in adulthood.
Why children have progressive myopia
Childhood onset myopia is most commonly caused by the eyes growing and continuing to grow after age 10-12 when eye growth should normally cease. Genetics, environment and the individual’s characteristics can all contribute to this excess growth.
Adult onset myopia usually occurs as an adaptation to fatigued eye focusing muscles due to a significant increase in close work, such as university studies
What are the symptom that parent should look out for?
Some of the signs and symptoms of myopia include:
squinting to see properly, and
Difficulty seeing objects far away, such as road signs or a blackboard at school.
These symptoms may become more obvious when children are between ages 8 and 12 years old.
Can Myopia lead to blindness?
If the myopia is mild, ophthalmologists call this low myopia. The risk of blindness is low. However if the degree is high ( > 5 Diopters ) They call this high myopia
People with high myopia have a higher risk of developing a detached retina. If you have See your ophthalmologist regularly to watch for changes in the retina that might lead to retinal detachment.
People with high myopia may also have a higher risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts. If your child already wears glasses, you can do something to stop their vision worsening. If they don't you can assess their risk of developing myopia.
Myopia Control for Children
Myopia in children works a little bit differently. Because the eye is in an active growth state, the progression of myopia may be slowed until a child’s eyes stop growing. Myopia control is important so that your kid eye doen not progress to high Myopia.
If your child has myopia, and their eyes are changing rapidly, there are a few promising management strategies that may help.
Atropine Eye Drops
Low-dose atropine (0.01%) has emerged as an effective approach to slow the progression of myopia in children and adolescents. It also appears to be safer. Low-dose atropine has been adopted by many pediatric ophthalmologists recently. Two large trials in Asia found that atropine drops slowed children myopia progression by 50%-60%. However, because myopia is not curable, children who use atropine drops may still need to wear glasses or contact lenses.
Peripheral defocus lenses
These include the peripheral plus design, These lenses have distance correction at the center for clear central vision with asymmetric design at the periphery incorporating continuous plus power for altering peripheral optics.
The Defocus Incorporated Multisegment Spectacle (DIMS) lens.
This is known as Defocus Incorporated Multisegment Spectacle (DIMS) lens. The D.I.M.S. spectacle lens has around 400 multiple segments of plus powered lenslets in the mid-peripheral portion of the spectacle lens surrounding a clear central zone for distance refractive correction. The multiple segments induce myopic defocus at the retina periphery while simultaneously providing clear central vision.
Multifocal Contact lens/ Orthokeratology
You may have heard of a process called orthokeratology to treat myopia .Also known as ortho-k, orthokeratology uses specially designed gas permeable contact lenses to temporarily reshape the eyeball while you sleep. In the morning, the lenses are removed and you have clear vision without the use of contact lenses or glasses.
In many cases, people may choose to correct myopia with LASIK or another form of refractive surgery. These surgical procedures improve your vision by reshaping the cornea.
Which is best?
Your Ophthalmologist will give the best guide of which option is most suitable for your child, as it can depend on their level of myopia, eye muscle coordination, age and more. It’s important for you to also understand the influence of your child’s visual environment – outdoor time and screen time – on successfully managing their myopia.
Healthy eye tips to prevent Progressive myopia
How can you prevent myopia from getting worse?
Though there’s no cure for myopia, there are everyday steps you can take that can support your overall eye health. These days, it’s especially important to set limits for your children (and yourself) on activities that lead to eye strain.
Monitor Time on Devices
Another ongoing field of study is the relation between near-work activities and myopia progression. While not 100% conclusive, many preliminary studies show that near-work activities, like using a phone or computer, are associated with myopia. For that reason, we recommend monitoring the time your child spends on a phone or other digital device. There is no best method for correcting myopia. The most appropriate correction for you depends on your eyes and your lifestyle.
Natural Light & Outdoor Activity
Although studies are ongoing, recent controlled trials show that children who spend more time outside (up to 14 hours a week or more) have less myopic shift and axial elongation than children who spend less time outside.
Try these sight-saving tips:
Limit time on digital devices.
Take screen breaks to stretch your eye muscles.
Don’t read or work in dim light.
Encourage going outdoors.
Wear sunglasses outside.
Wear protective eye gear for sports/hobbies.
Schedule regular eye exams.
Ask your provider about atropine eye drops to slow progression.
Ask your provider about dual focus contact lenses to slow progression in kids.
Which foods should my family eat to keep their eyes as healthy as possible?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that eye exercises, vitamins, or pills can prevent or cure myopia.
Everyone’s eyes rely on nutrients from the foods we eat to maintain vital eye tissues and functions. Nutrition is especially essential to your child’s vision as their eyes grow and develop. In addition to limiting caffeinated colas, keep everyone hydrated by drinking enough water.
Also try to eat foods that are rich in:
Vitamin A. You need enough of the antioxidant vitamin A in your diet (or through a supplement) to maintain the surface of your eyes and healthy vision. There are vitamin A-rich sources for every diet preference. Plant-based choices include vegetables like sweet potato, leafy green vegetables, and carrots. Or you may choose animal-based foods, such as cheese, oily fish or liver.
Vitamin C. The best foods for getting a daily dose of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, including oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and broccoli.
Lutein. Eat leafy green vegetables to make sure to get enough lutein, which helps eyes filter harmful blue light that can damage retinas.
You can supplement your or your child’s diet with a multivitamin if you think you aren’t getting enough. Remember though that vitamins that come in a pill are not as well absorbed by the body as those that occur naturally in fresh foods.
Taking good care of your family’s vision means regular eye exams, a good eye care routine and a healthy diet. Keeping those healthy habits will help you all to see a future filled with all the things you love.
Meet our specialist
Dr Norazah Abdul Rahman
Consultant Ophthalmologist, Paediatric Ophthalmologist and Strabismus Surgeon
Paediatrics Ophthalmology & Strabismus Surgery