Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Myopia Treatment & Bifocals for Children

There was an article in the Los Angeles Times today reporting about a new study that was just completed that will be published in the Archives of Ophthalmology. The article discusses the increase recently noted in myopia and a possible treatment for myopia.

There are several theories about the cause of the increases in myopia, but most of them hint at a causal relationship between all close work children are doing and the myopia increase. Kids are playing video games, watching television, using a computer and looking at their telephone displays. On top of that they have their homework and whatever pleasure reading they may do. This all amounts to lots of close work.

The article reported on the treatment of myopia with bifocals. The theory is that the bifocals allow the children to read through a lesser powered part of the lenses....basically this is what happens in a bifocal design...and thereby they are not having to focus as much when they do their close work. The kids that used the bifocal eyeglasses had a 38% decrease in their myopia compared to the group that used traditional single vision distance only eyeglasses.

In addition to the usage of bifocal eyeglasses, it should be mentioned that it is possible to treat children that are myopic with contact lenses that are bifocals as well. I have done so in my practice and found that myopia changes have been less in children that use their contacts in this manner. This can be done with soft lenses as well as rigid gas permeable contact lenses.

There is also a technique, known as orthokeratology, in which special contact lenses are fitted to the corneas to be worn at night. This technique causes the cornea to flatten overnight. When the lenses are removed the nearsightedness improves significantly.

While all of this is still relatively controversial, there is increasing evidence that points to the fact that these different approaches can help retard the deveolpment of myopia. Make sure that you discuss all this when you next bring your children in for their yearly eye exams.

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