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What is Myopia?

Myopia, also commonly known as near-sightedness, results in a person not being able to see distance objects without the use of glasses or contact lenses. The most troubling aspect of myopia is the rapidly increasing number of Canadians suffering from this condition and the increasing number of patients with high myopia (> -5.00 Diopters) in British Columbia.

World-wide Myopia Numbers 2000

  • 22% of the world population myopic (1.34 billion people)
  • 2% of the population being classified as high myopia.

2050 (estimated from current rates of increase)

  • 49% of the population (49 billion people) myopic
  • 7% of the population with high myopia

The theories behind why we are seeing such a dramatic increase in prevalence and severity of myopia is multi-factorial; family history, ethnicity, diet, time outdoors, near work, and current vision correcting options have been shown to contribute. At this time it is generally believed that the cause of myopia is approximately 70% genetic and 30% environmental.

Why is this important?

The more myopic (near-sighted) an eye progresses, the more dependent on vision correction (glasses and contact lenses) a person becomes. Even more importantly, as an eye becomes more near-sighted, the axial length or size of the eye increases. As an eye becomes larger, the structural and sensory components of the eye (sclera, retina) are forced to stretch to accommodate this increased surface area. This stretching can result in weakening of the ocular tissue and the risk of serious ocular health complications greatly increases later in life.

What can be done?

Myopia Management is one of the newest and most exciting areas in Optometry. For many years, the only treatment offered for patients becoming more and more near-sighted was to prescribe stronger prescription glasses and contact lenses and hope that one day the progression will stop. Myopia tends to progress most rapidly through our adolescent and teenage years. This happens as our bodies are rapidly growing over this time period and the eye is growing as well. Current treatment options that have been shown to slow myopia progression include:

  • Multi-focus glasses
  • Multi-focal contact lenses
  • Orthokeratology (night time hard contact lens wear)
  • Atropine Eye Drops (most effective in slowing progression)

The rate of success of these treatment options has varied from patient to patient, with the most effective treatments resulting in an average of 50% or more slowing of progression. Results will vary between patients.

Our Approach

Our goal at Kamloops Family Vision is to select a treatment option specific to each patient that is going to best slow or stop their progression of myopia, correct their vision and offer the best quality of life impact in regards to that patient’s needs. A Myopia Management Assessment is performed prior to initiation of treatment. This initial assessment allows us to take detailed measurements of the eye to determine baselines and the opportunity to discuss current behaviors and habits and assess other risk factors. This allows us to make a personalized, treatment recommendation for your child.

Myopia Management at Kamloops Family Vision is not simply a single treatment recommendation, but a management plan that encompasses regular monitoring (every 3-6 months) and an evolving strategy based on treatment success and guided by the most recent scientific research and clinical guidelines.

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