We live in an era where technology is no longer just a tool, but an embedded part of our daily lives. To a large extent, our children are born into it as we see technology used for play and also education, even relieving parents of their ‘duties’ momentarily during meal times. The early and prolonged exposure to various electronic products and screens has increasingly become the cause of today’s children experiencing short-sightedness – myopia. Myopia is an accidental by-product of modern civilization. The number of people with myopia are on the rise with a high incidence in children and young people. A study conducted in Taiwan on adolescent vision discovered two ages where myopia peaks; from 7 to 8 years old and 13 to 14 years old.
Children with premature myopia are at higher risk of developing high degree of myopia in the future
Myopia can be divided into congenital and acquired. Congenital is a genetic factor whereas acquired is caused by the environment. If parents have high myopia, chances of the child having myopia will be relatively high. The causes of acquired myopia include prolonged reading at close quarters and the use of various electronic products which causes the eyes to focus too hard, the eyeballs will then naturally increase in length to adjust and accommodate the light focus. When our eyeballs grow by 1mm, the degree of myopia increases by 3 diopters.
The earlier a child develops myopia, the higher the risk of developing high myopia in the future hence it is necessary for early prevention and control. High myopia refers to children with myopia greater 6 diopters (-6.00), a kind of refractive error accompanied by eye axis extension, fundus degenerative disease and visual dysfunction. Compared with ordinary people, individuals with high myopia are at higher risk of developing diseases such as retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
If your child has the following symptoms, it may be an early warning sign of myopia. Have your child’s eyes examined as soon as possible.
- Frequent rubbing and blinking
- Squints often when looking at objects
- Frequently frowning
- A habit of strabismus (a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object)
- Sore eyes with headache
Myopia is irreversible, control and correction are the key
For treating myopia in children, the most crucial measure is early identification and controlling the increase. Myopia control and correction treatment methods currently available in the market include:
- Atropine eye drops
Atropine at a low concentration (0.01%) can relax the eye muscles which in turn helps slow the progression of myopia in children with minimal side effects.
- Myopia control glasses
Using Progressive Addition Lenses to reduce the power of looking at close quarters, avoiding excessive force on the eyes when seeing near objects, and help control power increase.
- Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)
This non-surgical treatment method uses a specially designed contact lens (Ortho-K) that is worn at night to change the shape of the corneal surface during sleep.
At the age of 18 when eyeball development and refractive power are relatively stable, laser surgery and implantable contact lenses can be considered to help correct vision. This adds to the convenience as there is no need to wear glasses and contact lenses.
- Implantable Contact Lens
Implantable contact lenses are suitable for people with high myopia, dry eye, or thin cornea. It can treat up to -20.00 diopters, does not require permanent removal or remodeling of corneal tissue, and does not dry the eyes.
- iLASIK Surgery
An advanced form of Custom Femtosecond LASIK, the iLASIK uses advanced diagnostic tools and surgical lasers to customize LASIK treatment for your individual eye for better, clearer vision. It only takes 15-20 minutes to regain clear vision for myopia patients.