We are excited to offer to our patients a new concept in controlling myopia. This is especially significant for children who have parents that have myopia.
What is Myopia and what is its significance?
Myopia or nearsightedness refers to a condition of the eyes in which light passes through the eye and focuses before it gets to the retina. It is known that millions and millions of people all over the world currently have myopia. Prior methods of treatment have all centered upon ways to compensate for the condition but not attempt to slow it down. The methods include eyeglasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery. These methods are very successful in compensating for myopia but until recently there was no methodology for stopping or slowing down the development of myopia prior to it becoming a significant hindrance. We now have evidence that there is a way to slow down and control the condition of myopia in many patients before it gets to a level that can affect the eye health of individuals that experience it.
How Prevalent is myopia worldwide?
30% of the world’s population is currently myopic. It is predicted that by the year 2050 about half of the world’s population will be myopic. That’s 5 billion people. These changes have been dramatically increasing over the last 20 years.
Why does a child become myopic?
Several factors can contribute to a child’s potential for becoming myopic. These include the following:
- Whether one or more of the parents has myopia
- The amount of near work the child participates in including reading and computer usage
- The amount of time the child spends outdoors
- The ethnicity of the child (Asians have a greater propensity for developing myopia)
- The degree of myopia experienced by the parents
Is it possible to determine the risk of a child becoming myopic?
It is possible to determine the degree of a child’s prescription at a particular age and predict the risk associated with their current prescription as it applies to further myopia development. Some myopic patients are at low risk and others can be at high risk for myopic development.
Why bother to control myopia?
The reason it is important to control myopia is that high myopia is associated with many eye health conditions that can be detrimental to eye health. Among the problems that are associated with high myopia are:
- Retinal detachment and retinal tears
- Myopic macular degeneration
- Optic nerve issues
- Increased risk of cataract development
What is the underlying cause of myopia in children?
The development of myopia in children is strongly associated with increases in length of the eyeball. It is understood that eyeball length increases in children normally as they grow. The problem with myopia is that this additional increase in eyeball length associated with myopia development creates increased stress upon the structures of the eye which can then lead to ocular complications later in life. These structural changes are what cause the increased risk for patients that develop significant myopia. (High myopia is considered to be -5.00 diopters and higher.)
When is the best time to begin myopia control?
It is important to intervene in myopia control at an early age. This is when intervention has the best opportunity to be effective. Once a child reaches the age of about 9 or 10 years of age myopia can still be controlled, but the ability to control it diminishes. Early intervention is the key.
What other factors influence the development of myopia in children?
As mentioned earlier it is important to make sure that children spend an ample amount of time outdoors playing or participating in sports. The mechanism is not clear, but it is thought that time outdoors is one factor that helps to control the increase in myopia. Time indoors cannot be avoided as children have to do their homework and reading as a part of their education and school work. What is important is that parents encourage their children to be outside as much as possible and to take frequent breaks from their near work.
What are the “tools” that are used to control myopia?
There are three basic methods to control myopia:
- Low dose atropine combined with bifocal eyeglasses of various designs
- Multifocal soft contact lenses known as center distance contact lenses
- Orthokeratology or Corneal molding
The main thrust of the various treatments above involves creating an optical environment that is not stimulating for axial length growth of the eyeball. This is accomplished by a variety of optical treatments incorporated into the various “tools” described above. These methods can be stand alone or can be done in conjunction with one another depending upon the need of the individual.
Can my vision care plan be billed for some of the procedures?
Patients can use their vision care plan to cover part of the yearly eye examination and whatever allowances they may have toward eyeglasses and contact lenses. The professional services fees relating to Myopia Control are global as discussed below and are not covered by vision care plans. HSA accounts can be used as well.
What are the fees associated with myopia control?
Our fees for Myopia Control are global and cover the visits required as well as the product costs and doctor time.
How do I get started?
The first thing to do is to schedule a comprehensive eye examination to determine the exact prescription for your child and get a general idea as to whether or not they are a candidate for myopia control. This visit can be billed to your vision plan if you have one. If it is determined that your child is a candidate, a second consultation will be scheduled. The cost for this consultation is $125.00. Additional testing will be performed at this visit and at the end of this visit you will be presented with the various options available. If you choose to enroll in the myopia control clinic the $125.00 will be applied to the global fee.
Off Label Treatment
Myopia Control uses products that are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, the procedure of Myopia Control is an “off label” treatment. This means that the products used have not been approved to specifically slow down the progression of myopia even though individually they are all fully FDA approved.
If you have any questions, please contact the office to schedule a consultation.