Myopia, or nearsightedness, causes blurry distance vision. Most children who develop myopia will become more nearsighted as they progress through their academic years, which can lead to an increased risk of more severe eye disease later in life. Myopia control can help slow and, in some cases, halt this worsening of nearsightedness in children.
On This Page
Why Choose Myopia Control?
Increase in Myopia
Myopia is more common than ever in children, and they are developing near-sightedness at younger ages than previous decades. The earlier children develop myopia, the more likely they are to develop serious vision conditions like glaucoma and retinal detachment as adults.
Effects of Myopia
As the eyes become increasingly myopic, they grow in axial length (the measurement from the front to the back of the eyeball). When the eye lengthens, the retina stretches.
As the delicate retinal tissue is stretched, the eyes become increasingly susceptible to other eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and early-onset cataracts.
While multiple options exist for myopia control, one of the most safe and effective ways doctors have found to slow myopia progression in children is specially-designed contact lenses worn at night that, over time, reshape the cornea.
Vance Thompson Vision in West Fargo offers orthokeratology to children whose vision and age make them good candidates for treatment.
Myopia Control Locations
Orthokeratology for myopia control is offered at our West Fargo location. Patients seeking orthokeratology who live near other Vance Thompson Vision clinics will be referred to this location and will be cared for with the same time and attention as in their local clinic.
Orthokeratology or 'OrthoK' is the preferred form of myopia control for many patients and doctors, including those at Vance Thompson Vision. Most commonly, OrthoK uses a custom made contact lens that is fit for a young patient’s specific cornea shape and level of nearsightedness. Kids wear their OrthoK lens at night while they sleep and it helps stabilize their prescription, reducing the risk of future eye disease and vision loss. This method of treatment can also preserve a child’s ability to pursue vision correction like LASIK as an adult.
How Orthokeratology Works
Babies are generally farsighted with eyes that are slightly too short. As humans grow, our eyes are supposed to grow to the correct length and stop. However, our modern environmental signals no longer match what the eye has evolved to expect — either from too much screen time, not enough time roaming outdoors, or a combination — the modern eye is missing its cue to stop growing. Myopia control gives those cues.
This is usually in the form of a custom contact lens that gently reshapes the cornea. The lens alters how light enters the eye to produce the signal it needs to stop lengthening. Children wear the lenses nightly until they reach their late teens or young adulthood. Then, if needed, they can consider other methods of vision correction such as LASIK, glasses, or traditional contact lenses.
Our Myopia Control Doctors
Myopia control specialists are optometrists who, in addition to being able to provide refractive, cataract, cornea, and glaucoma treatments, can also slow the progression of myopia.
Our doctors are dedicated to improving vision for all aspects of your eye. Our team members understand the decision to pursue myopia control comes with many questions and considerations, which is why they take the time to get to know each patient and their family.
When should my child see a doctor to check for myopia?
Vance Thompson Vision recommends that all kids kindergarten age and older have a complete eye examination performed annually by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. While vision screenings done by your pediatrician are certainly helpful, they can overlook some aspects of eye health.
Are there changes I can make now to help prevent myopia in my child?
If your child is already nearsighted, the best way to prevent progression is to begin a myopia control program. If you child is not nearsighted, you can reduce their risk of axial lengthening by making these simple changes to your child’s daily routine:
Every twenty minutes, take a break from device use for several minutes.
Spend two or more hours outdoors each day. Being outdoors engages distance vision and the natural light is good for overall vision.
Genetics is also a risk factor for nearsightedness, so if one or both parents are nearsighted, it is likely that their child will become nearsighted also.
Does myopia always worsen?
Once a child is near-sighted, they typically continue to become more nearsighted until their late teens or early 20s. Likewise, myopia cannot be reversed. The younger the onset of myopia, the more likely the child will become highly myopic later in life.
Does myopia control correct astigmatism?
Yes, we can simultaneously correct astigmatism and near-sightedness. Myopia control adjusts the cornea shape in a manner similar to how LASIK modifies the cornea. If your child stops wearing their OrthoK lenses, the cornea will revert back to its normal shape and the astigmatism will return.
What happens at a myopia control consultation appointment?
The first visit for myopia control determines if the child is a good candidate for orthokeratology. Using a pentacam, an optometrist will perform a scan of the patient’s eyes to discern if the cornea is free from disease and has a shape that can be adjusted with lenses. If the patient chooses to go forward with a myopia control program, the optometrist will use a device to measure axial length and an instrument that assists in designing a custom OrthoK lens.
Is OrthoK only for kids?
Adults with nearsightedness can also use OrthoK lenses. While their level of myopia is likely stable, OrthoK lenses can be used as a form of vision correction so that they can avoid using contact lenses or glasses during the day time. It is a great option for adults with contact lens-related dry eye or intolerance and for those who are not ready for surgical intervention like LASIK.
What if my child is not a good candidate for OrthoK treatment?
OrthoK is a science-backed approach that is effective for the majority of children; however, there are alternative treatment options for patients who need it. If that's the case for your child, your doctor will discuss these options with you.