The incidence of myopia (short-sightedness) is getting worse in both Asia, Australia and the USA. Myopia is associated with a greater risk of retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataract and macular degeneration. If a child requires a new pair of spectacles within 6-9 months, or a change of 0.75D per year, then they are classified as having “progressive myopia”. There are now three ways to either slow down or stop the progression of myopia.
Wearing Ortho-K lenses can reduce the progression of myopia significantly (up to 75%) in some cases. There have been four scientific studies on the myopia control effect of Ortho-K lenses, and it is now the most popular form of myopia control in Asian countries. Ortho-K also allows for independence from spectacles or soft contact lenses during the day.
Soft bifocal contact lenses
Soft bifocal contact lenses have also been found to be effective at slowing down the rate of progression of myopia as well. They are not as effective as Ortho-K, but can an ideal alternative to those who do not wish to or are not suitable for over-night wear of contact lenses. The practice is one of only 6 in Australia who have access to the Cooper Mi-Sight myopia control lens. In those cases where this lens is not suitable, other alternatives are available.
Eye drops to treat myopia progression: Atropine 0.01%
Atropine at a concentration of 1.0% has been long known to stop the progression of Myopia, but the adverse effects (paralysis of the focusing muscle, dilated pupils, allergic reactions and skin rashes on the eyelids) limited its use. Recent research at the National Eye centre in Singapore has shown that at a reduced concentration (0.01% or 1/100th of the original) is also very effective at slowing the progression of Myopia, but with little or no side-effects. The pupil does not dilate, there are no allergic reactions, and the focusing power of the eye is only mildly affected. It has to be specially made at a compounding pharmacy and only requires the installation of 1 drop in each eye before bed. This makes it an ideal alternative for those children who are not suitable for, or who do not wish to use contact lenses.
Myopia control Spectacles
These new lenses have only a very mild effect on myopia progression (12-16%), are expensive and not well tolerated by children. They remain a work in progress.