There is currently no cure for myopia, but spectacles, contact lenses and refractive surgery can all provide good distance vision for people with myopia. Myopia development and progression has become of the most investigated areas in vision research not only because the myopia incidence is growing in the younger generation but because high degrees of myopia carry higher risk of ocular health conditions such as retinal detachment.
Myopia control does not reverse the amount of myopia that is present. It aims at reducing the progression after initiating treatment, to limit the incidence of high myopia.
There are a number of options for myopia control, and your optometrist will discuss the option or options is best suited for you.
- Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) – these contact lenses aim to control the progression of myopia by correcting for peripheral hyperopic defocus (which is thought to be a major contributing factor to the progression of myopia).
- Atropine eye drops: Atropine is a drug that typically causes pupil dilation and cycloplegia (loss of accommodation). This can useful in diagnosing eye disease, improving amblyopia (lazy eye) and treating inflammatory diseases. However, when prescribed at these diagnostic and therapeutic concentrations, they can cause side effects such as blurred vision and glare. However, at low doses, it has been shown to be effective in controlling myopia with fewer associated side effects.
- Multifocal soft contact lenses: this avenue seeks to control myopic progression by correcting for peripheral hyperopic defocus. They are the same lenses that are worn by people over 45 to help read clearly and are typically a monthly-disposable lens worn only during waking hours.
- Visual hygiene/vision therapy – it is well accepted that good “visual hygiene” can reduce near point visual stress and hence the likelihood of myopia. Examples are ensuring appropriate near working distance (no closer than the “knuckle-on-chin-to-elbow” distance), good lighting for all near activities, and regular, frequent focus shifts during prolonged near work, ideally looking away into the distance for a few seconds every 15 minutes, and for a few minutes every half an hour. A program of vision therapy may also be required to improve focusing skills which can contribute to myopia development and progression.
- Time spent outdoors: Recent studies suggest that time spent outdoors is beneficial in reducing the progression of myopia. There is insufficient evidence at this time to know what factor is accountable for this protective effect. But more time spent outdoors (a minimum of 2 hours per day is recommended) with good UV protection doesn’t sound like too bad of an idea!