Understanding Myopia and myopia management protocols at Dr. Elmalem and Associates Optometrists
WHAT IS MYOPIA?
Myopia or near-sightedness is a vision condition where near objects appear more clear while those that are far away look blurry. A person is myopic when the shape of the eyes causes light rays to refract or bend inaccurately. Instead of focusing on the retina (nerve tissues situated at the back of the eyes), the light rays become focused on the front of the retina. The condition can develop at any time but tends to start during childhood or adolescence.
- Myopia affects over 27% of the global population (more than 1.5 billion people).
- By 2050, the condition is expected to affect over 50% of the global population¹.
- Canadian myopia statistics are in line with the global average considering 30% of the Canadian population is myopic².
The Need for Myopia Management: What are the Risks of Myopia?
Myopia stretches the structure at the back of the eyes that collect visual signals. If left untreated, myopia can increase the risk of developing serious vision-threatening eye diseases/disorders like glaucoma, cataract, and retinal detachment. These conditions can lead to reduced vision or irreversible vision loss.
Myopia management is a concern for people of all ages. However, recent studies show that myopia, as an eye health condition, is becoming more prevalent among children aged 5 to 7 years³.
There has been a surge in cases of myopia in children due, in part, to the use and over-use of screens and digital devices. Our myopia management services for both pre-myopic and myopic children are a high priority for Dr. Elmalem & Associates.
(While there’s no proven direct link, research indicates that people spending more time indoors watching screens and engaging in other near-focused activities may be a concerning contributing factor for myopia)
How Can Myopia Be Stopped, Delayed or Slowed?
Myopia can not be reversed. However, the slowing of myopia progression is possible.
At Dr. Elmalem and Associates, Optometrists, believe the progression of myopia (or short-sightedness) may be slowed naturally by taking measures that protect overall eye health.
- Limit screen time: Limiting common near-focused activities like screen-time on smartphones, computers, TVs, and other related digital devices.
- More time outdoors: Increasing time spent outdoors has shown to have a positive effect on slowing the myopic shift in children. Spending one or more hours per day outdoors can provide an additional benefit for children and teenagers undergoing myopia management treatment.
- Good reading/watching habits: Simple measures like holding books and gadgets 15 to 30 inches away from the eyes can reduce myopia risks greatly among both adults and children⁴.
Myopia Management in York Region
Managing screen time, encouraging good reading/watching habits, and ensuring outdoor time are useful, natural interventions for myopia management. However, in certain cases it may not be enough to rely only on these myopia management methods and the addition of our myopia management treatments will be an important intervention to help your child.
Step 1: Eye Exam/Eye Test
An annual eye exam is recommended to detect vision problems early. The best way of monitoring your vision is to see an optometrist once a year for an eye test or immediately after you notice vision problems.
Step 2: Myopia Management Plan
Once we conduct an eye exam and diagnose myopia, we may prescribe any of the three myopia treatment options:
1. Atropine Eye Drops
Atropine eye drops work by relaxing the eye muscles responsible for focusing. This prevents the eye’s axial length from increasing too much and worsening myopia over time as the eyes grow⁵.
Patients are generally required to use the eyedrops every night. We prescribe low-dose concentrations of atropine with little to no harmful side effects like eye redness or itchiness. We also monitor patients regularly to see if treatment is working.
2. Multifocal Contact Lenses
Special contact lenses (multifocal lenses) may be recommended as myopic control method in York Region with patients whose near-sightedness is getting worse. Multifocal contact lenses aim at different focus areas.
The middle of the lens corrects blurry distance vision while the outer parts of the lens blur or defocus the side (peripheral) vision. Blurring side vision slows down eye growth, halting myopia in the process.
If we prescribe multifocal contact lenses, our optometrists will offer guidance on how to wear, clean, and store the multifocal contact lenses properly to reduce the risk of eye infections and ensure optimal comfort.
3. Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)
This treatment involves wearing a special type of contact lenses overnight to correct distance vision experienced during the day.
Ortho-K lenses are more challenging to fit when compared to regular contact lenses. The lenses work by flattening the cornea during sleep. During the day, distant objects appear clearer since light passing the flat/reshaped cornea “hits” the retina directly.
Orthokeratology is a short-term treatment option. Once a patient stops wearing Ortho-K lenses, the cornea assumes its original shape, and near-sightedness resumes. Nevertheless, the treatment can slow the progression of myopia.
Searching for myopia control consultation in York Region? Book an appointment TODAY with York Region’s leading optometrists. Find out more about myopia management by visiting Dr. Elmalem and Associates clinics in Newmarket – Call: 905-830-1910 or Richmond Hill.- Call: 905-780-0250.