Myopia in children
“Myopia in children is an increasingly common eye condition. In 30 years, it is estimated that half of the world's population will have Myopia. This blog explains the latest insights, knowledge and developments regarding this topic.“
What is Myopia?
Myopia is the medical name for nearsightedness. When children are born, they are usually born with a plus-strength, which is also called farsightedness. This means that they cannot see clearly up close. This is normal. As they get older and grow, so does the eye. Because the eye grows, the plus-strength disappears and you eventually arrive at 0. There is then no farsightedness and no nearsightedness. The child can see perfectly near and far.
Nearsightedness occurs when the eye grows faster than normal. The back of the eye is then too long. In an eye without abnormality, the light rays enter the eye through the pupil to the lens of the eye. They converge exactly on the retina, which is behind the lens of the eye. Then you have a good view. In people and children with myopia, the light rays converge in front of the retina, so you can't see well. Then you see blurry.
Children are sometimes born with this. As the eye grows, the Myopia gets worse. You often see that the minus strength decreases more and more as children get older. This is because they are still growing. The higher the Myopia, the more likely you are to develop eye disorders as you age. On average, Myopia develops when children are between the ages of 6 and 12. Around the age of 25, the strength stabilizes and usually does not deteriorate.
There has been a huge increase in the number of children who are nearsighted now compared to 50 years ago. This is mainly due to lifestyle changes. Children nowadays play outside less and look more closely, for example on screens. Reading for long periods of time or sitting too close to work also increases the risk of Myopia. Playing outside keeps the eye from growing too fast. This is because there is 15 times more light outside than inside. Your eye responds to this by producing dopamine, which slows down the growth of the eye. If a child plays outside for 2 hours or more per day, the best result is achieved. It is advisable to adhere to the 20-20-2 rule. This means that after 20 minutes close to work (screen, book, etc.) you look 20 seconds away and are outside in daylight for 2 hours a day. Another effective piece of advice is to keep the book, monitor or other object a minimum of 12 inches (30 cm) from the eyes.
There are a number of other causes of Myopia in children. Heredity is one of the causes. If one or both parents is nearsighted, the chance that your child also has or will develop this abnormality is considerably higher. Another cause is premature birth.
The most common method of correcting Myopia in children is wearing single-lens glasses. The glasses have lenses, which act as an extra lens. As a result, the point where the light rays meet in the back of the eye in front of the retina is moved to the retina. This gives you a sharp image. Wearing glasses is possible at all ages. There are suitable glasses and frames for every age.
Another option is daily contact lenses. There is no minimum age for this. The choice of contact lenses mainly depends on the child and how responsible and independent he is. The average age at which children start wearing contact lenses is between 10 and 12 years. The minimum age is from 8 years. Then there is no longer a chance that a child will develop a lazy eye.
In an ideal world, we can slow down myopia in children so that it doesn't deteriorate as much as it does in a normal course. This is especially nice when you consider that the higher the strength, the more likely you are to develop other eye conditions later in life. If we can prevent those higher strengths, the chance of other eye disorders is therefore a lot smaller. There are several options available today for inhibiting myopia.
There are night lenses on the market that inhibit Myopia. The official name is OrthoK lenses. During the night, your child wears the contact lenses. As a result, he sees clearly during the day. However, there are also many dissenting voices, mainly from Optometrists. Night lenses work because they flatten the cornea, as it were. This increases the chance that small wounds can occur in the cornea. This makes it easier for bacteria, infections and parasites to enter. This can be dangerous, especially if hygiene rules are not properly followed. It is recommended that children under the age of 12 should not use these lenses. An investigation into the effectiveness and complications of Ortho-K is currently underway.
Laser eye surgery is a treatment that is becoming increasingly popular among adults. However, this is only done from the age of 18. It is therefore not a suitable treatment for younger children.
Atropine eye drops
Increasingly, the use of Atropine eye drops is used in the fight against worsening Myopia. Atropine inhibits the length growth of the eyes. These eye drops can be used in children from 4 years old and are suitable for children whose Myopia increases by one point or more per year. Every day you drop both eyes of your child, unless the Myopia is only in one eye. This method of treatment has proven to be very effective and has been used for quite some time. There are possible side effects, as it is a medicine. The most common side effects are photosensitivity and blurred vision at close range.
New type of glasses
More and more is being developed to prevent the worsening of Myopia. A new development is a special type of spectacle lenses that ensure that you can see clearly from a distance, but at the same time have an inhibiting effect on the growth of the eye. And thus counteract the worsening of Myopia.
Hoya is one of the suppliers of this new type of spectacle lenses. The name of the lenses is MiYOSMART lenses. They work with the so-called DIMS technology. They provide clear vision and at the same time slow down the progression of myopia. They can be used just like single-lens lenses. They can be used in any frame.
Another provider is Essilor. They have a new type of lenses called Stellest. These do exactly the same as the glasses from Hoya. They not only correct the Myopia, but also control it by inhibiting the progression of Myopia. The technology they use for their glasses is called HALT technology. The results of both types of lenses are extremely positive. With both glasses, the progression of Myopia decreases by so 'n 60% off. There are no drawbacks to these glasses.
In conclusion, there are a lot of new developments going on. Ask the optician or optometrist about what is possible and suitable for your child.