We are currently in the midst of a global myopia epidemic. The incidence of myopia, or short sightedness, in school-aged children and young adults has reached extremely high proportions in some regions, particularly in East Asia where over 90% of the population is myopic.
About 40% of Australian school-aged children are thought to be myopic. Once a child has become short-sighted, they tend to become more and more short-sighted every year. This means that over the course of a child’s lifetime, they are more at risk of developing eye diseases such as retinal detachment and glaucoma.
These conditions have the potential to cause a severe reduction in vision and quality of life, and will cause increased strain on the health system.
Are there ways to slow or halt the progression of myopia that normally occurs childhood and teenage years?
What is Myopia?
Myopia, often called short-sightedness, is a common focusing condition of the eye. In myopia, the eye ball tends to be longer than usual and therefore the eye cannot focus objects clearly on the retina (the back inner surface of the eye that relays visual information to the brain).
Astigmatism is also a common focusing condition of the eye. Astigmatism is usually caused by an irregularly shaped cornea or lens inside the eye. The eye is therefore unable to focus objects clearly on the retina and the object of interest appears blurred or distorted. For a detailed description of myopia and astigmatism please watch the short web-videos provided (see right).
There are currently three main treatment strategies to slow down the progression of myopia:
- Increasing outdoor activity / exposure to sunlight
- Specialised contact lenses (such as ortho k) and glasses
- Atropine eye drops
A New Treatment for Myopia
A study in Singapore recently showed that myopia can also be controlled by using an eye drop called Atropine. This eye drop has been used on eyes to dilate pupils for decades. What is even better is that the concentration that was discovered to work well was only 0.01%, which is 1/100 of the normal concentration.
Here at The Eye Practice, we focus on tailoring a treatment plan to each individual, based on their eye prescription, eye health, needs and lifestyle. We give parents all the information about the pros and cons of each treatment so that they can make informed decisions about the best plan for their child.