We now have a better understanding of myopia (or nearsightedness) than ever before, but there still is a lot that we do not know about the details of nearsightedness and its development. The truth is that we don’t know exactly how this works, and we can never make promises because what may work for 1000 people may not work for you.
More generally, there is a genetic component for sure, but it’s not a total guarantee that your children will have myopia just because you and your spouse are nearsighted. It is really more of a genetic susceptibility than an actual myopia “gene.”
If you are concerned about the increasing strength of your child’s glasses, there are some options to consider to help limit the change. These options are listed from least to most aggressive. Generally, more aggressive treatments are more effective, but require greater commitment. While many of these treatments are effective, they are not FDA approved specifically myopia control but can be used “off-label”.
- SPEND TIME OUTDOORS – Children should strive to be outdoors at least two hours a day. We do not know if this is the critical amount of time, but in studies children who were outdoors at least that long did not progress in their myopia as quickly. This is most effective before they require glasses, so it is a good idea to get kids in the habit of getting outside early in life.
- BIFOCAL CONTACT LENS – Soft bifocal contact lenses have been studied for myopia control with success. They require lens wear during the day and will help with focusing up close as well as in the distance. These exist in both monthly and daily options. The clarity of vision may not be quite as good as glasses.
- ORTHO-K – Ortho-K (orthokeratology) is currently the best prescription lens device for correction and myopia prevention based on freedom from glasses or contact lenses during the day and a high success rate compared to other techniques.
- MEDICATION – Atropine eye drops are placed in the eye, normally once a day, for as long as myopia progression is considered a risk. Atropine is a drug normally used in the eye to make the pupil bigger and to prevent the eye from being able to change focus.
Visit http://www.myopiaprevention.org/ for more information on myopia and what can be done to limit its extent.