Myopia Control Clinic

Nearsightedness

Effective Treatments are Now Available in Westbrook and Portland  to Control Nearsightedness in Children and Young Adults

Myopia (nearsightedness) is a visual condition that causes the distance vision to become blurry. It can start as early as age 7, and it progressively gets worse until the early to mid 20s.

Recent studies have shown that increasingly more people are becoming nearsighted, and the amount of nearsightedness that the average person is developing is also increasing. A recent study found that 25% of the US population was nearsighted in 1971. In 2004, that number had increased to 41%. In other words, the number of nearsighted people in the US has nearly doubled in the past 30 years! Read more about myopia studies.

So why are more and more people becoming nearsighted?

Nearsightedness is caused by three factors.

First, it is inherited – if your parents are nearsighted, you will likely become nearsighted.

Second, the amount that young people read and use computers and electronic devices can also cause the eye to grow, or to become nearsighted. As the eye keeps growing, the nearsightedness increases. Eye growth or “axial elongation” is what makes a person nearsighted.

Third, there are studies that show that spending less time outdoors is associated with more nearsightedness.

What can be done about it?

Until recently, the only treatment options for nearsightedness have been eyeglasses and contact lenses, and then, later in life, refractive surgery. Most commonly, a nearsighted person’s vision continues to get worse with each passing year. The standard treatment has always been to increase the strength (and thickness) of the eyeglasses. However, new scientific research has shown amazing success at controlling how quickly nearsightedness gets worse. These new treatments, called “Myopia Control,” reduce the progression of myopia by as much as 70% to 90%. This is exciting news! Now, with early treatment, we can control how much the eye grows. That means your children will develop only a fraction of the nearsightedness that they may have otherwise.

Myopia Control has two main treatments: The first approach uses a very low concentration of a common eye medicine called atropine. Used once daily, research shows that it can reduce nearsighted development by approximately 80%.

The second treatment involves changing the way light focuses at the edges of the vision as compared to the center of vision. When the outer edges of the vision are focused differently, using a special soft contact lens, it results in approximately 40-60% less nearsighted development.

It is important to understand that these treatments must be continued from the time of early diagnosis of myopia until the age at which the eye would normally stop growing, usually the early 20s. After that, the treatment may be stopped.

A common question about treating nearsightedness is often “Can’t someone just have laser eye surgery once their eyes stop growing?” LASIK can be done once in the 20s or 30s, but there is a problem with LASIK — it only changes the shape of the cornea (the front surface of the eye), not the shape of the whole eye. A myopic eye, even an eye treated with LASIK, is still elongated and this elongated shape puts the eye at risk for eye diseases later in life like retinal detachments, glaucoma, and early cataracts. Even worse, with severe myopia, central vision can be permanently distorted, where it cannot be made clear with glasses or contacts.

Our Westbrook eye doctors have one goal in mind, and that is to help you and your family see the best you can and have healthy eyes for your entire life. It is not often that such an opportunity becomes available that does both! This is a true opportunity for a new generation of nearsighted people. Enroll in the Myopia Control Clinic and you really will create a better life for your children.