Myopia Management

Myopia in ChildrenMyopia (short-sightedness) management

Myopia (short-sightedness) can occur at a very young age for children. If your child is affected by myopia, he/she most likely struggles to see clearly for distance objects. Just like adults, myopia arises when the light rays entering the eye are focused in the front of the retina rather than on the retina. Myopic patients may also have an elongated eye ball.

Is your child at risk of myopia?

While there is still much medical science don’t know about myopia, genetics as well as environmental factors are the largest contributors in the development of myopia. Genetics can play a role in myopia and your child will naturally be at higher risk when both parents have myopia. Excessive near work such as reading, watching TV and working on computer/mobile has been known to contribute to the development of myopia. Myopic patients will usually go through constant changes in their script until it stabilises as they reach their early 20’s.

Preventive care

Severe myopia can increase risk of developing certain sight threatening eye conditions. Any patient who suffers from severe myopia will be at risk of:

  • Retinal Detachment – Because a myopic eye ball is elongated, the retina is stretched thinner than usual. This increases the chances of a retina tear or in more serious cases a retinal detachment.  This condition can lead to blindness if it is not treated promptly.
  • Glaucoma – Severe myopia can cause an increase of eye pressure. If the eye pressure is left untreated, this will lead glaucoma which can cause a significant loss of vision.
  • Cataracts – There have been many research findings indicating the association between high myopia and cataracts. Because the elongated axial length of the eye ball, some vital nutrients are deprived to the entire eye possibly causing cataracts to develop early.
  • Macular Degeneration – Due to the elongation of the eye, high myopic patients are at higher risk of developing myopic macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a condition that impair the central vision and can lead to blindness.

Controlling myopia

There are a few successful methods to reduce the progression of myopia in a growing child.

  • Atropine 0.01% eye drops
  • Orthokeratology contact lenses
  • Special Spectacle lenses

All these methods can attempt to reduce the progression of myopia with some demonstrating better results than others.

Atropine eye drops

Atropine is a safe anti-muscarinic drops used commonly in ophthalmology. Studies has shown that Atropine can help in strengthening the sclera causing a reduction in the elongation of the eye ball – which in turn causing myopia.

Recent studies has demonstrated that a lower concentration of atropine can help control myopia with fewer to no side effects. These same studies have also shown that the atropine could potentially reduce the progression of myopia by 50%.

Is your child a right candidate?

Atropine eye drops are suitable for children aged 6-12 suffering from myopia.

The treatment

Your child will have to be checked by the eye doctor before any treatment can be recommended. The treatment involves a drop of 0.01% atropine each night for at least one year. You will be asked to visit your eye specialist a few times a year to check the progress of the treatment. It is important to note that these drops aims to reduce the progression of myopia but it cannot stop myopia from developing.

With the correct dosage of atropine, the child will not experience any slight sensitivity or reading issues which are the common side effects of the atropine drops. The mild transient stinging of the drop will go away quickly only causing a slight amount of discomfort for the child.