First off, what is myopia? Myopia is a refractive vision condition of the eye in which the images don’t quite reach the back surface, causing nearsightedness. In short, myopia= nearsightedness. More and more people all over the world are now myopic. Back in the 70s about 25% of people in the US were myopic. Currently, about 43% of people are myopic. In places like China and Japan, those numbers are even higher: in some places, greater than 85% of people are nearsighted.
Why are people becoming more nearsighted? Several studies have suggested a few correlated factors in the rise of myopia. First, children are spending less and less time outdoors, where they would need to focus on distances farther than the other side of the room. The second factor is actually the flip-side of the first: children are spending more and more time looking at objects within 3 feet of their eyes, such as phones, tablets, and computer screens. In this digital age, more people have access to computer screens than did their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.
Of course, a suggested way to slow this trend is to create and provide a healthy balance for children between time spent indoors and time spent outdoors. Children (and adults) need fresh air and sunshine and looking at things far away. This also means less screen time, which admittedly, is very difficult in the digital age, where even grade-school children are required to do homework on the computer.
While glasses and contacts can help the symptoms of myopia, these devices haven’t been shown to slow the progression of myopia in children and young adults.
However, there is a type of vision correcting device that has been proven to slow down the rate at which a child’s nearsightedness gets worse. Instead of having to get stronger and stronger glasses or contacts every year, their myopia can be controlled! This treatment goes by many different brand names, but the idea is all the same: for children (and adults) with mild to moderate myopia, and/or mild astigmatism, a gas permeable contact lens is placed on the eyes overnight. This lens gently reshapes the cornea (the front surface of the eye) while a person is sleeping, and in the morning, the lens is removed and the person can see clearly. Think of it a little bit like a Jell-O mold, for soft gelatin. By the end of the day, the eye returns to its previous shape. After doing this treatment for several weeks, some people may be able to keep the lenses out for more than one day, but will eventually need to reinsert the lenses to continue experiencing crisp vision throughout the days.
Dr. Anker has chosen to become a certified professional for Paragon’s Corneal Reshaping Therapy (CRT). If you’re interested in stabilizing you or your child’s myopia, please call ClearView Eyecare to schedule a consultation with Dr. Anker. For more information, check out http://www.paragonvision.com/