What are the side effects or risks of Myopia Management for children?

If your child has myopia, also known as short-sightedness (or near-sightedness), you may have heard about myopia management. Myopia management is a treatment programme that aims to slow down the progression of myopia and reduce the risk of developing eye diseases in the future. But what are the side effects or risks of myopia management for children? And how can you weigh them against the benefits?

Myopia Management

What is myopia and why is it a problem?

Myopia is a common eye condition that affects millions of children and adults worldwide. It occurs when the eye grows too long or the cornea and/or eye lens are too curved, relative to the length of the eyeball. This causes distant objects to appear blurry, while near objects remain clear.

Myopia most commonly starts in childhood and tends to get worse until the eye stops growing, usually around 20 years of age. Myopia may also develop in adulthood due to environmental factors or health problems. Myopia is often hereditary, so if you or your partner have myopia, your child is more likely to have it too.

Myopia can be easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses, but it can also pose serious risks to your child’s eye health in the future.

Higher levels of myopia are associated with higher chances of developing vision-threatening eye diseases later in life, such as myopic macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment.

These eye diseases can cause significant visual impairment and reduce a person’s quality of life. Therefore, it is important to prevent or slow down the progression of myopia as much as possible.

  • Myopic Macular Degeneration

    A deterioration of the central part of the retina that affects detailed vision.

  • Glaucoma

    A condition that damages the optic nerve and can lead to blindness.

  • Cataracts

    A clouding of the eye lens that affects vision quality and clarity

  • Retinal Detachment

    A separation of the retina from the back of the eye that can cause permanent vision loss

What are the options for myopia management?

There are several options for myopia management that have been shown to be effective in reducing the rate of myopia progression by 30 to 80 percent compared to conventional optical correction. These include:

  • Multifocal contact lenses

    A type of contact lens that provides different focal points for near and far vision to reduce eye strain and eye growth.

  • Atropine Eye Drops

    A type of medication that relaxes the eye muscles and inhibits eye growth. This type o treatment is not currently licenced for use in community practice in the UK.

  • DIMS and HAL spectacles lenses

    These are specially designed glasses that have treatment zones which have been clinically proven to slow down the progression of myopia.

  • Lifestyle Changes

    Lifestyle changes that are simple to do and are completely free:

    • Encourage your child to limit close visual tasks to no more than 30 minutes at a time.
    • Ensure that all reading and near visual tasks are held at more than 30 cm away.
    • Outdoor time: spending more time outdoors exposes the eyes to natural light and reduces near-vision stress.

The best option for your child depends on several factors, such as their age, level of myopia, rate of progression, lifestyle, preferences, and budget. You should consult with your optometrist to discuss the pros and cons of each option so that you can make an informed decision based on your child’s individual needs and goals.

What are the side effects or risks of myopia management?

While myopia management has many benefits for your child’s vision and eye health, it also has some potential side effects or risks that you should be aware of. These are generally mild and rare, but they may include:

  • Dryness

    Some children may experience dryness in their eyes when wearing contact lenses or using eye drops, especially if they regularly stare at smartphones (also one of the major causative factors in myopia development and progression).

  • Infection or inflammation

    Some children may develop an infection in their eyes when wearing contact lenses or using eye drops, though some studies have shown that young children are more compliant at looking after contact lenses.

  • Allergic Reaction

    Some children may have an allergic reaction to contact lenses or eye drops (particularly if a child has hay fever or similar conditions).

  • Corneal Abrasion

    Some children may scratch their cornea when wearing contact lenses or using eye drops. Although this is rare, very occasionally, it may lead to a corneal ulcer. However, research has shown that actually young children tend to be more compliant with contact lens care compared to adults and teenagers.

  • Reduced Contrast Sensitivity

    Some children may have difficulty seeing subtle differences in brightness when wearing multifocal contact lenses. This may also occur with Night Lenses, particularly in dark conditions.

  • Reduced Peripheral Vision

    Some children may have difficulty seeing objects at the edges of their vision when wearing multifocal contact lenses and spectacles.

  • Rebound Effect

    Some children may experience a rebound effect where their myopia progresses faster after stopping treatment. This is particularly prominent when low dose atropine therapy is stopped suddenly, rather than gradually tailed off.

To minimize these side effects or risks, you should follow your optometrist’s instructions carefully and use your chosen intervention as prescribed. You should also monitor your child’s vision and eye health regularly and report any changes or problems to your optometrist as soon as possible. You should also attend all scheduled follow-up visits with your optometrist to check your child’s progress and adjust their treatment if needed.

How can you make an informed decision?

Myopia management is a personal choice that involves weighing the benefits and risks of each option. You should consider your child’s current and future vision needs, as well as their comfort and preferences. You should also consider your budget and your child’s lifestyle.

You should talk to your optometrist about all your options and ask any questions you have. Your eye care professional will provide you with honest and evidence-based information and advice. You should also do your own research and seek a second opinion if you wish.

Ultimately, you should make an informed decision that is best for your child’s vision and eye health.

The author of this article is our optometrist and owner, Deven Lakhani, who is a recognised specialist in myopia management. This article was also published on Myopia Focus.

Contact Hammond Opticians

Find out more

Ask our expert optometrist

If you have any questions about myopia management, or have concerns over either your own or your child’s eyesight, please contact us to find out more, or to book a consultation.

Call us on:

020 8363 3578

Email: admin@hammondopticians.co.uk
Contact us via the website

Hammond Opticians Cups