What is Myopia Control?
Myopia control is the use of specific treatments to slow the progression of nearsightedness in children. Myopia control measures typically are prescribed by an eye doctor (an optometrist or an ophthalmologist).
Currently, there are four categories of myopia control treatments: atropine eye drops, multifocal contact lenses, multifocal eyeglasses and orthokeratology (ortho-k).
Myopia control is important because it may help reduce the risk of vision-threatening complications associated with high myopia later in life — including glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment and even blindness.
Atropine eye drops
Atropine eye drops commonly are used to reduce the pain associated with certain types of eye inflammation. They also relieve focusing fatigue by dilating the pupil and temporarily limiting the eye's ability to automatically change focus (a process called accommodation).
The effect atropine has on accommodation may be what accounts for its effectiveness in also reducing the progression of myopia in children. Some studies have shown that atropine is the most effective way of controlling myopia, and that its use can reduce myopia progression by up to 77 percent.
Multifocal contact lenses are primarily designed to provide clear vision at all distances for people who have refractive errors, including myopia, and also are experiencing the normal age-related loss of near focusing ability called presbyopia.
A two-year study in the U.S. concluded that nearsighted children who wore multifocal lenses on a daily basis had a 50 percent reduction in the progression of their myopia when compared with similarly nearsighted children who wore regular soft contacts for the same period.
Multifocal eyeglass lenses work similarly to multifocal contacts to help wearers with presbyopia see clearly at all distances.
Studies in the U.S. and abroad have concluded that children who wear multifocal glasses have a statistically significant lower rate of myopia progression than children who wear regular single vision glasses. One study concluded that multifocal eyeglasses provide up to a 33 percent reduction in myopia progression.
Also known as "corneal reshaping lenses", ortho-k contact lenses are specially designed gas permeable contacts that are worn only at night during sleep. In the morning, the lenses are removed and the temporary correction is good enough so corrective lenses are not needed during the day.
A recent study found that — in addition to temporarily correcting existing myopia — ortho-k contact lenses reduced myopia progression by 45 percent.
To learn more about nearsightedness and myopia control, schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor near you.
Page updated October 2018