Being nearsighted may seem like no big deal. After all, estimates suggest that nearly 40% of the population is nearsighted and that number is expected to rise. For many of these people, their myopia will develop very slowly, and while they may need changes to their glasses or contact lens prescriptions from time to time, these won’t occur all that often. However, for a number of patients, the progress of their myopia will be much more rapid. This means much more frequent changes in prescriptions, which can be costly and inconvenient.
The other issue raised by rapidly-progressing nearsightedness is the risk of associated problems that could affect your vision. Research has found that patients with severe myopia are more likely to experience complications such as early cataracts, glaucoma, myopic macular degeneration, retinal tears, and even retinal detachment. Some of these conditions can lead to irreversible sight loss.
The good news is that the progression of nearsightedness can be controlled thanks to the development of treatments that are known by the term ‘myopia management’. These treatments can often be used by a wide variety of patients, including some children.
Myopia management is the name given to treatments that have the goal of slowing or even halting the progression of myopia so that it remains firmly under control for as long as possible. There are a couple of different myopia management options available, and your eye doctor will be able to recommend the variety that will best suit you and your individual circumstances.
Orthokeratology, or Ortho K as it is commonly known, is one of the most common techniques for myopia management. Ortho K uses rigid, gas-permeable contact lenses which are custom-designed specifically for each patient. These are worn overnight while you sleep, during which time they place light force onto your eyes in order to reshape the cornea so that it is more regular and able to refract light properly onto the retina. Despite their reshaping, they are very comfortable to wear and allow enough oxygen to pass through them to prevent your eyes from drying out. Worn regularly overnight, they can significantly slow and even stop the progress of myopia.
Ortho K lenses have the added benefit of enabling patients to see clearly for a number of hours the next day without using glasses or contact lenses. This is because the eye retains its new shape for some time. The more frequently you wear your lenses overnight as directed, the longer your eyes will be able to hold their shape for, meaning that within a week of commencing treatment, most patients can see clearly for an entire day without prescription eyewear.
If orthokeratology lenses aren’t right for you, you may be recommended to consider soft lenses for myopia management. As their name suggests, these are soft contact lenses, but rather than being cleaned and reused every night, they are daily disposables which means that you just pop a new pair in each day. Soft contact lenses are worn during the daytime and have different powers in different zones of the lens which corrects age-related vision deterioration (presbyopia) as well as correcting myopia.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of myopia management and the options available, get in touch with our knowledgeable eye care team in Walla Walla, WA today.