Myopia is the medical term for short-sightedness. Patients who are short-sighted need glasses or contact lenses to be able to see things further away. It is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Myopia usually starts in childhood or teenage years, and is caused by a gradual elongation of the eyeball. This causes the light entering the eye to be focussed in front of the retina, rather than on it, causing the vision to be blurred.
Not only is myopia inconvenient, but this elongation can cause eye problems later in life, including increased chance of retinal detachment, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. The higher the degree of myopia, the higher the chance of these issues occurring.
If one parent is myopic, the risk factor increases by approximately 3x. If both parents are myopic, that increases to around 6x. The younger a child becomes shortsighted, the higher the chance of high myopia (greater than -8). Children of Asian descent are more likely to become myopic. Environmental risks include long hours of near focussing (for example studying, reading or screen use), spending too little time outdoors, and incorrect or under-corrected glasses.
Younger children often don’t verbalise any visual problems because they do not have a point of comparison. As a parent, it is important that you are able to notice some of the signs and symptoms your child may display that could signify a need for refractive correction i.e. glasses.
Headaches, eyestrain and squinting are all symptoms of myopia. In school, teachers often express concerns about a child having difficulty seeing the whiteboard in school. At home, observe your child when watching TV in the evenings. Are they intentionally always sitting very close to the TV? Ask them to read the small subtitles as a fun challenge whilst watching a movie together. If they are struggling to read or squinting their eyes, book an eye examination with an optometrist.
When you are able to see objects clearly in a distance, but closer objects are out of focus, this is known as hypermetropia (long-sighted). When left uncorrected, text will appear blurry, there will be constant headaches and eyestrain when trying to focus nearby. In some cases depending on the strength of correction needed, this can affect a child’s academic performance in school.
Astigmatism is a type of refractive error due to an irregularly shaped cornea (commonly explained as the front of your eye shaped as a rugby ball). This condition results in distorted and blurry vision at any distance. Other symptoms include eye straining, headaches, difficulty seeing at night and eye irritation. Uncorrected astigmatism can affect your children’s development and education.
The best things you can do as a parent of a myopic child, or a child at high risk of developing myopia, is try to manage the environmental factors where you can, such as reducing the number of hours your child spends focussing at near, encourage them to take regular break from reading and studying, encourage them to spend 2 or more hours per day outside. You can also take your child to an Optometrist who specialises in myopia management, for regular eye examinations.
In the past 5 or so years, we have now developed a much better understanding of the causes of myopic progression, and techniques have been developed with great success in slowing down myopic progression in youngsters. These methods include:
- Ortho-Keratology (Ortho-K), or ‘night-time lenses’. These are special contact lenses which are worn at night, while asleep. They gently, subtly, reversibly and painlessly reshape the front layer of the cornea, so that when the lenses are removed the vision is corrected the following day, with no need for glasses or contact lenses during the day. The reduction is myopic progression is between 50-60% with ortho-K.
- Soft myopia management daily disposable lenses, for example Misight or Naturalvue. These are specially designed soft lenses, worn during the day, which can help reduce myopic progression anywhere between 50-75%.
- Spectacle lenses such as Miyosmart from Hoya. These are very special lenses worn as spectacles. They both correct vision, and when properly dispensed and worn during waking hours, they can help reduce myopic progression by an average of 62%.
- Atropine eye drops have been successfully prescribed for slow myopia progression in children, however it is rarely prescribed in the UK.
There is a small risk of infection, trauma or inflammation with any type of contact lens wear. The risks can be mitigated with good hygiene, following all your optometrist’s instructions and attending regular contact lens checks and eye examinations.
Wearing Miyosmart spectacle lenses carries no risk.
At Taylor-West & Co Opticians in Dulwich and Battersea/Clapham, we charge just £49 per month for all myopia control options, including all professional time, contact lenses, solutions or spectacle lenses.
As part of a routine test, the optometrist will carry out health checks as colour vision testing, eye movement tests, stereopsis testing, Optomap retinal scanning, and OCT scans.
Optomap using a special laser to scan the back of the eye, capturing up to 82% of the retina in a single image. This gives us a panoramic view of the retina, with no need to dilate your pupils.
OCT is the latest addition to our specialist equipment. It is the ultimate technology to ensure eye health. OCT has the ability to detect problems in the eyes prior to any symptoms being present in the patient.
At Taylor-West & Co Opticians we consider that children can benefit from wearing contact lenses as it has been proven that contact lenses can enhance their sports performance and they can offer a better 360° visual experience. Many children can also feel self-conscious whilst wearing glasses. Depending on your child’s prescription and age, contact lenses can give a huge confidence boost.
There is no minimum age to start wearing contact lenses. Our optometrist will analyse your child’s prescription and other parameters when fitting contact lenses for the first time, such as cleanliness, dexterity, and motivation.
At Taylor-West & Co Opticians our staff are trained in specialised myopia management techniques, and we will always give you the most suitable options for your child’s visual needs. We take into consideration the anatomical structure of a child’s face and advice on the best frame fitting as well as providing prescription sport glasses. We have carefully selected independent eyewear brands that are designed and manufactured to specific parameters taken from measuring children of different age groups, and are passionate about helping.
68 Northcote Road, London, SW11 6QL
80 Lordship Lane, London, SE22 8HF