So, your child has been diagnosed with myopia, or near-sightedness, and needs glasses or contact lenses to see at a distance. What can you do to help slow down their myopia progression?
HERE ARE LATEST STUDIES ON HOW TO CONTROL YOUR CHILD'S MYOPIA
Recent research shows that soft multifocal contact lenses are one of the most effective ways to help slow down the progression of myopia. Soft multifocal contact lenses are NOT designed like multifocal glasses. With multifocal contact lenses, the wearer would have clear vision at all distances without needing to change his/her head position. They are very comfortable. They are available in daily disposables, reducing any parental concern about proper lens care.
How are bifocal contact lenses used for myopia control?
Bifocal contact lenses are worn during the day and removed at night. They give clear vision for objects far away and objects nearby. Generally they are worn every day although occasionally a day without the lenses will not adversely affect the treatment. The lens are worn as long as myopia progression is considered a risk.
How do bifocal contact lenses work for myopia control?
Bifocal contact lenses have been shown by Aller and Wildsoet to slow the progression of myopia. The reason they apparently work is not that they reduce the reading effort, which they do, but rather that they create a ring of increased power surrounding central vision that the eye interprets as a "stop signal" for further growth. When eyes grow longer, they become more myopic. The signals for this growth are in the peripheral retina.
There have not been many published studies of soft bifocal contacts being used for myopia control, but the Aller and Wildsoet study showed an 87% reduction in myopia progression for the first year.
CIBA Vision is testing an anti-myopia silicone-hydrogel (soft) contact lens that is reported to slow myopic progression by 34% over one year and 49% if one parent was myopic. CooperVision is marketing a lens called the MiSight in Hong Kong on a trial basis, reported to be a daily disposable made of the ProClear material. The lens reduced myopic progression by 37% over 20 months. Each of these studies is for one year. Other non-contact lens methods have been found to have less effect after the first year and so it remains to be seen if the contact lens effect is multi-year.
Are there any side effects?
The greatest risk of any contact lens wear is abrasion and infection. Bifocal lenses used to slow myopic progression are no different, no better or worse, than regular contact lenses worn by millions of people. The risk is greatly reduced by following instructions in lens care, handling, wearing time and follow-up visits with your doctor who can often identify small problems before they become more severe.
Bifocal lenses are generally a bit thicker than single vision lenses and so they may not be as comfortable to begin with for someone who is used to wearing thinner lenses. Adaptation, if necessary at all, usually occurs within a few weeks. There are always some people who are too sensitive, whether psychologically ("squeamish") or physically (dry eyes, difficult to fit eyes, etc.) but these can usually be overcome with either time or proper treatment.
Children, even young children, can make excellent contact lens patients. They need a certain level of maturity (they won't throw away a lens bothering them for example) and they need more parental supervision, but they often can be trained how to apply and remove their lenses more quickly than adults can be trained.
Risks specific to bifocal contact lenses used as a treatment for myopia progression are essentially the risk that it won't work. There can be no guarantee of how the eye will respond but the data is very encouraging. Some eyes may do better.