Can I do anything to stop my child’s Eyeglasses from getting stronger?

Can shortsightedness be stopped or controlled?

This is yet another common question we regularly face while prescribing new eyeglasses to children. More often than not, the question will be from the parent of a child who has myopia or myopic astigmatism. Comparatively, Hypermetropia, and Astigmatism will not progress that much.

Myopia, often called nearsightedness, is where one can see up close but not far away. Myopia is the most common refractive error, and it is on the rise. It is estimated that by 2050, half the population of the world will be myopic..!

For myopes, light rays from the outside world are not reaching the retina, mostly because the eye is a little longer than normal, and as a correction for the same, minus spherical lenses are being prescribed. As myopia is linked to the eyeball’s growth, one must expect myopia to get higher and higher when you do an eye exam every next year until the child reaches around 18-20 years because our eyeballs will have its natural growth until that time. The growth of our eyeball clearly has its influence from the genes it inherited. If either of the parents is myopic, it is likely that the child will also turn myopic, and if both the parents are myopic, the chances are even higher.

Ophthalmologist is checking the eye vision of little cute girl in modern clinic

Thus, it is a fact that myopia will progress as long as the child’s natural growth is happening. So, it is quite common that people like me reassure the confused or tensed parents of our myopic patients that “This is normal. Expect the prescription to increase every year until they hit university age.” Well, there is a bit of half-truth in it. Even though completely arresting the growth of myopia is impossible as of now, there are ways to slow down the growth.

If I were sitting with a group of my fellow Optometrists now and having a discussion on this same topic, then we will be vividly talking about the exciting researches and promising inventions happening around the world with regards to the progression of Myopia. Be it the latest November 2019 FDA approved Contact Lens, MiSight from the US company called Cooper Vision, of which one part of the lens corrects vision while another part pulls peripheral rays of light, which would encourage the eye to grow in front of the retina, thereby signals the eye to grow more slowly or the special eyeglasses developed by companies like SightGlass Vision Inc. which are claimed to be able to control myopia by lowering the amount of contrast in the wearer’s peripheral vision, which in turn slows the growth of the eye,- there are promising indications which suggest a potential solution to arrest the progression of myopia, at least to an extent, is around the corner. These are some of the latest developments from this field apart from the traditionally ongoing attempts to control the progression of myopia using Ortho Keratology Lenses, Rigid Contact Lenses, multifocal and bifocal lenses, Low concentration of Atropin, etc.

Having said that, to the common man to whom my website is addressing, I must confess that though we surely are on the right track, none of these products or techniques has received a global acceptance or confident consensus among the eye care professionals around the world yet, and thus none of these are in profuse practice as a treatment of myopia in most of the world yet. This is largely because there are few obvious missing links or unanswered questions, as is the case with any ongoing research, which hopefully will be linked and answered by the brilliant brains behind all these works in the times to come. The cost-effectiveness and the availability of these products in the local market and the lack of technical know-how on some of these new inventions among the current practitioners are also among the reasons why these are not common in practice around many of us.

However, to this larger part of the above-mentioned world that does not yet have the access/acceptance to these developments related to the progression of myopia techniques, the answer to the above question is still a, YES.

YES, YOU CAN arrest the growth of the progression of myopia of your children by taking them outdoors or encouraging them to do more outdoor activities.

Children playing outdoors in summer, one running with a ball.

There are well-documented theories from various parts of the world (I will plug-in a few of them down here for your reference), which substantially conclude that the time spent outdoors, especially during daylight, is inversely proportional to the progression of myopia. Researches have shown that children who spend at least 90 minutes in natural sunlight each day have slower myopia progression rates by 11- 34%. Kids are usually engaged in more distance-vision activities when they are outside, which places fewer strenuous near-vision demands on young eyes. The outdoor light also stimulates the release of dopamine in the retina, which is proven to be playing a role in inhibiting the growth of the eye.

I know I am writing this in a time where the world is encouraged to be indoors due to the pandemic going around. However, I am sure we all know how to work out this one hour or so for the larger good of our children’s eyes by following necessary safety precautions.



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