As a parent your child’s health is your primary concern. For a lot of parents finding out that your child needs glasses for the distance can be expected. This can be especially true if we too wear glasses, and or if our child has been complaining of blurry vision. However, the shock tends to come in at follow up or subsequent annual appointments when the prescription seems to be escalating at an alarming rate.
For some of us changing our kids’ glasses each year can be the norm, but we can’t help but think how high their prescription will get, will it even get as high as our own? As our children grow so do their eyeballs, it is this growth in the eyeball size that causes an increase in the prescription. But are there more factors? While research is not concrete on the subject we are noticing a rise in myopia with research indicating that half the population of the world will have myopia by 2050.
With new research constantly coming out there is good news. There have been ways found to slow down the progression of myopia. Slowing down the rate of myopia is critical, high prescriptions can put us at higher risk for ocular health concerns, can make us ineligible for laser corrective surgery, and can have profound effects on our self-esteem.
It is important that we first tackle the myths. Not wearing the glasses, or wearing glasses that are under-corrected does not reduce our myopia progression. In fact, research shows under-correcting our prescription can lead to quicker myopia progression. We sometimes think that our child won’t require glasses because we, as the parents, don’t wear glasses. While genetics does play a factor, so does the environment, and it can often happen that a child with parents who do not wear glasses ends up with a significant prescription. Don’t forget, sometimes we have a distance family member with a high prescription, or our family members may not have had the same access to vision care as we do.
Research has greatly evolved and demonstrated many ways in which we can now slow down the progression of myopia. Using speciality lenses in glasses that have a reading prescription has been shown to slow down the progression by roughly 20%. Specialty contact lenses can slow down the progression of myopia for up to 40%. And certain drops are indicating a slowdown of around 70% in the progression of myopia. Depending on the age of your child, their level of activity and their prescription one method may be more advantageous than the other.
It is important that you have your child’s eyes checked early, the earlier we can initiate treatment the greater the effect. We must understand that the above treatments only slows down the progression, it does not reverse any of the current prescription. Therefore, the earlier we can start treatment, the more significant of an impact we can have on the final outcome. All the above treatments have been shown to be safe for children.
We would love to see your child for their next eye exam. Children under 19 years of age are covered by OHIP for one full examination once a year. We would be happy to talk to you about myopia control options that could work for your child.
Dr. Marina Ceaus is an Optometrist practising in Streetsville. She sees children starting at 6 months of age and is passionate about pediatric eye care. You can book an appointment with her through her website www.drceausoptometry.com or by calling at (289) 997-3385.