Pediatrics and Myopia Control

At Pines Vision Care, we see pediatric patients as young as 3 years old. It is especially important to check children early, since many conditions such as amblyopia (“lazy-eye”) and strabismus (“wandering eye”) are more successfully treated when diagnosed at a young age. These conditions are much more difficult to treat at an older age, so timely diagnosis is important. Many children with these conditions can go undetected even with screening examinations at school. Dr. Betancourt and Dr. McIver have over 50 years of combined experience of dealing with pediatric vision problems.

Myopia control is a growing field of vision treatment which recognizes that myopia, or nearsightedness, is a growing problem worldwide. It is estimated that by the year 2050 that half the world’s population will have myopia. A child with parents that do not have myopia has a 25% risk of developing myopia. A child with one parent with myopia has a 33% chance of developing myopia, and with both parents who are myopic, the child has a 50% chance of developing myopia. Myopia typically starts in the preteen years and continues through the teenage years. By around 20 years of age, myopia typically stabilizes unless the prescription is very high, in which case, myopia can continue to increase even in the adult years.

Previously, myopia was thought to be self-determined and little could be done to affect the ultimate outcome of the condition. However, research in the field has shown that with early intervention, myopia can be slowed down dramatically, ultimately resulting in significantly lower adult myopic prescriptions. This is important, as adult myopia can be problematic resulting in severe visual difficulty requiring high prescription glasses. While the cause is unknown, digital devices are implicated in contributing to progressive myopia. Risks of adult high myopia include myopic maculopathy, similar to macular degeneration, as well as cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.

Early intervention in childhood myopia, known as myopia control, utilizes several different treatment strategies to dramatically reduce myopic progression. Pediatric ortho-k has been demonstrated in peer-controlled studies to significantly slow myopia. Similar to retainers for your teeth, these specially designed lenses gently reshape the cornea, or the front of the eye, while sleeping which allows the child to see during the daytime without visual correction. Studies show that this is an effective way to reduce childhood myopic progression. In early 2020, the FDA approved the MiSight™ soft contact lens to reduce myopic progression by approximately 50%. Additionally, for children who cannot use contact lenses, atropine treatment can also slow myopia significantly. These prescription eyedrops instilled at nighttime can be used alone or in combination with ortho-k or the MiSight™ lenses to effectively reduce childhood progression of myopia.

Dr. McIver has done extensive training in the treatment of childhood myopia and has successfully treated many children with this condition. If you have questions about your child and their myopia, please do not hesitate to contact us at (954) 438-4947.