My kids love reading and they are developing a mild addiction to iPad time even though it is carefully managed. I am really conscious of reducing this close work exposure because we have a strong family history of myopia, which means they are more at risk.
Myopia or short sightedness is one of the most common vision disorders with approximately 30% of Australian kids affected. This number is increasing due to many factors including increased hours spent on near related activities including screens and tablets. As Gold Coast optometrists seeing patients from Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, we have observed an increase in the number of patients suffering from progressive myopia over the last 20 years. Family history is another major factor in the development of myopia and the fact that my wife, her mother, my mum, and my sister and brother are all short sighted, has driven my special interest in myopia control and prevention of myopia progression, and resulted in me establishing Gold Coast Myopia Control as a specialty division of Envision Optical. There are several treatment methodologies we now use with well-established effects in slowing down or stopping the rate of progression of myopia worsening. Simply prescribing stronger glasses every year is outdated thinking and not been our primary approach for progressive myopes for the last 10 years at least.
Recently we have been excited to add a new lens technology to our suite of options for patients suffering from progression of their myopia: the NaturalVue Multifocal contact lens. This lens was originally designed for 45+ year olds to wear to assist with their deteriorating reading vision, but several studies have shown excellent preliminary results in myopia control. In these studies children who wore NaturalVue contact lenses for 6-25 months showed:
- 91% of kids showed a slowing of their rate of myopia progression of 70% or more
- 80% of children showed no progression at all over the period of wear
- rate of eyeball growth (axial length) reduced by 50%
NaturalVue is available in a daily disposable lens design which makes it very suitable for children as this modality has the lowest risk of eye infections in contact lens wear. They do not require cleaning and are not stored overnight. A new lens is worn each day. And recent studies have shown that kids 9-15 years of age have the lowest risk of contact lens complications, so contacts are a great practical option for vision correction whilst providing optical effects that reduce the rate of worsening significantly.
We evaluate the suitability of your child’s eyes for contact lens options during their comprehensive vision exam and then discuss in detail with you the pro’s and con’s before deciding on the best treatment plan moving forward. Remember we aren’t just focused on clear vision now. We want to PREVENT further deterioration so the final prescription stays low and reduces the risk of significant eye diseases later in life like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal detachments. Taking action early is important and I encourage all parents to ensure their child has a comprehensive vision exam every 2 years at least with the first one coming at age 3. If you have a family history of myopia annual visits during school years are a good idea.