My Child Keeps Needing Stronger Glasses, What can I do?
Myopia (short-sightedness) has become much more common worldwide in recent years and in the UK between 20- 40% of the population are now myopic. The reasons for this are not yet fully understood but we do know that children with two myopic parents are more at risk. Myopic eyes tend to be longer in length and research has shown that this excessive growth may be a response to the visual environment, namely excessive close work (reading and screen use).
Research has also shown that children who become myopic tend to spend significantly less time outdoors than children without myopia and that spending upwards of 10-14 hours/week outdoors is protective against myopia.
Being myopic is not simply inconvenient, it also significantly increases lifetime risk of developing serious eye conditions such as retinal detachment, myopic maculopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. The risk goes up with the level of myopia so anything we can do to reduce the level of progression of the short sight is highly beneficial.
The onset of myopia is typically in the school years with progression by variable amounts as the child grows. One can never be certain how much an individual child would have progressed without intervention but the research is clear that the following strategies have shown an effective slowing down of progression by up to 50%. The effect for a particular child may be more or less than this.
Orthokeratology: Ortho K contact lenses temporarily reshape the cornea so that light focuses on the retina, leading to clearer vision. These contact lenses are worn overnight while asleep and the effect lasts 24 hour or more, so that the child is free of spectacles or contact lenses during waking hours. This strategy offers a significant reduction in myopia progression of approximately 50%, which is thought to be due to myopia-preventing peripheral blur being created by the ortho K lenses. It also has the advantage that the contact lenses are used only in the home environment so the contact lens wear can be supervised by parents.
Multifocal and dual-focus soft contact lenses can also be fitted with similar results to ortho K lenses. There is a "myopia control" daily disposable soft contact lens for children about to be launched - until then existing contact lenses of a similar design are being used "off label".