A first and easily accomplished step is to make sure your child adheres to the 20-20-2 rule as much as possible. You can start doing this very early. If it turns out that the myopia is becoming progressive, then in consultation with the specialist you can determine which treatment method is most suitable to inhibit the myopia.
Soft myopia-inhibiting lenses
Ortho-k (orthokeratology) lenses are only worn at night, so your child doesn’t need glasses or contact lenses during the day. These rigid lenses exert corrective pressure on the central cornea during the night, flattening it. During the day, when the lenses aren’t worn, the cornea only retracts very slowly, allowing your child to see clearly without aids. The most important factor to take into account is that no blinking occurs during sleep, so the eye does not provide much-needed moisture. This can be remedied by using special eye drops without preservatives.
But this requires discipline: if these drops are forgotten the eye can become very dry, making it more difficult to remove the lenses in the morning. In addition, the risk of infection with night lenses is by definition higher than with soft myopia-inhibiting lenses. If your child’s myopia can be slowed down using soft myopia-inhibiting lenses, this option is always preferable to ortho-k lenses.
If the ophthalmologist or orthoptist prescribes treatment with atropine drops, your child will receive eye drops with a low concentration of atropine. Atropine shuts down the muscles that convex the lens of the eye to see up close and dilates the pupil. Scientific studies show that this substance can inhibit myopia. Most children benefit from a dosage of 0.05%. Such a low dosage has almost no side effects. The first check-up takes place approximately four weeks after the start of the treatment, usually in the form of a phone consultation. Treatment with atropine drops lasts about 2 to 3 years.
Frequently asked questions
Glasses with special myopia-inhibiting lenses have been developed for children with progressive myopia. These ensure that far vision is sharp, but also have an inhibiting effect on the growth of the eye. The techniques to achieve this differ slightly from each other, but all use the same principle: the honeycomb construction. As with myopia-inhibiting contact lenses, the light is refracted in such a way that the eye is not stimulated to grow. Special myopia lenses can be used just like single glasses lenses and in almost any frame..
Orthokeratology lenses exert corrective pressure during the night on (the epithelial cells of) the central cornea, which is thereby flattened (to the extent necessary). During the day, when the lenses aren’t worn, the cornea only retracts very slowly, allowing the wearer to see clearly without the use of aids.
The action of soft myopia-inhibiting contact lenses is based on the principle of ‘peripheral retinal defocus’. Simply put, this means that the light rays entering the edges of the eye (i.e. in the periphery of the eye) are additionally corrected, so that the light rays are also sharply imaged on the retina. With standard contact lenses, this does not happen and the image is peripherally blurred. By making the image sharp even at the edges, you prevent the eye from being stimulated to grow. And myopia is precisely caused by an eye that has grown too long.
Based on these results, the optometrist determines which lenses are most suitable for your child. Since there are different myopia management therapies, the optometrist who fits your child with myopia-inhibiting lenses will work closely with the orthoptist. Together they will draw up a treatment plan to slow down the progression of the myopia. The advice is based, among other things, on the place your child occupies in the percentiles. Your child’s myopia is thus graded on a developmental scale ranging from 1 to 100. The critical line here is 75. If the values exceed this limit, another route must be taken. Your specialist can inform you about this.