Cases of childhood myopia, or nearsightedness, are on the rise. About 42% of Americans now have myopia.
This condition develops when the eyeball grows too long or when the cornea has an odd shape, known as astigmatism. Light rays aren’t able to focus directly on the retina’s surface, so distant scenes like classroom whiteboards appear blurry.
Single-vision lenses — eyeglasses with a single prescription across the entire lens — can restore far vision. But they can’t stall the progression of myopia. That’s unfortunate because myopia can eventually lead to more serious eye problems such as early cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and retinal detachment. And there's another drawback to these lenses: They must be replaced often. Most children swap out their glasses for increasingly stronger prescriptions until they reach their early 20s. That’s the age when myopia usually stops progressing.
Four potential alternatives to glasses aim to restore vision while also preventing the eye from growing too long as the child ages. These options — MiSight contact lenses, orthokeratology, low-dose atropine drops and multifocal contact lenses — could potentially go a long way towards protecting a child’s vision for life. Here are the pros and cons of these potential myopia treatments.