Every year you buy your children clothing without thinking about why you are doing it. You just know they have outgrown their clothes and need a new coat and certainly new shoes. This also applies to prescription glasses. When your child grows, so do their eyes.
If their eyes grow too long, they develop myopia — nearsightedness. Children whose myopia develops quickly, and/or is moderate to severe, are at a heightened risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases in adulthood.
Changes in Your Eyes
Babies are born with eyes about 16.5 millimeters in length. When their eyes are about 24 millimeters long — at the age of 20 and 21 — they stop getting longer.
As our eyes grow larger, the way they refract light onto the retina can change, necessitating a new prescription.
During their first few years, children are mainly concerned with interacting with their surroundings, requiring them to use their intermediate and far vision. However, when the school years start, they begin to focus more intently on close-up activities like reading from books and using computers. As a result, their eyes may become more nearsighted.
School-age children can be impacted by progressive myopia, where the myopia continues to worsen throughout the school years. Their optical prescriptions can change, often dramatically, every 6-12 months
This progression in myopia continues as long as the eyes continue to grow, so as children grow, their prescription naturally changes as well.
Since most people’s eyes will stop growing in early adulthood, you will tend to see fewer changes in their prescription after the student completes high school or during their college years.
If your child has myopia they will need prescription glasses. In some children, myopia progression is gradual. In others, their myopia progresses quickly, resulting in ever-higher levels of nearsightedness. Their eyeglass prescriptions need to be updated quickly.
To try and slow the progression of your child’s myopia, their eye doctor may suggest a number of treatments. Currently, there are three types of treatment that can help control myopia.
Atropine eye drops are most commonly used to dilate your pupils during certain eye exams. However, recent research has shown that a low-dose (0.01%) of atropine eye drops can effectively impede the progression of myopia in children. When the eye drops are applied, at bedtime, over an extended period of time, myopia progression can be reduced.
Multifocal soft contact lenses offer clear vision at various focal distances. Scientific evidence has shown that wearing multifocal glasses or contact lenses limits the progression of myopia compared to the standard single vision contact lenses or glasses most children wear.
Ortho-k are specialized custom-fit contact lenses that gently reshape the cornea and decrease the rate of myopia progression. Your child will need to wear these contact lenses overnight, while they sleep. Due to the temporarily changed corneal shape, the following morning your child can experience clear vision without any need for eyewear.
If you are concerned about your child’s myopia, schedule an assessment for myopia management to see which life-changing treatment they will benefit from. The decision on whether to begin myopia management depends on your child’s age, maturity level, and lifestyle.
At The Eye Studio, we provide our patients with effective, specialized treatment to control the progression of myopia. By stopping or slowing the progression of myopia, we reduce long-term risks to best ensure that your child enjoys the world with healthy eyes throughout their life.
The Eye Studio serves patients in Portland,Beaverton, Vancouver and Hillsboro, throughout Oregon.