Myopia (Nearsightedness) It can be slowed or halted

From the ages of about 4 years old to 20, nearsightedness generally progresses, especially so  if the parents are nearsighted as well.  Some children progress rapidly, some slowly, but generally all nearsighted children progress.  I worry about the children who progress rapidly.

Up until now, when parents ask me if there is something that can be done to slow the progression of myopia, I always answered them with the answer “no".  Simply that was what I was taught.  We have known for many years that the eye drop atropine could slow or stop myopia, but it was considered too radical a treatment.  It causes pupil dilation; it decreases the ability to focus up close (reading).  So, I took it at face value.

I was wrong.

Things have changed.  New studies have come out which prove the effectiveness of atropine once a day.  And,  we now have transition lenses which turn dark outside.  We have progressive lenses which allow the child to read without a line bifocal.  

To make a long story short, atropine works.  With most children, 80 or 90%, and depending on the dosage, the myopia progression is slowed or even halted.

If you have a child and is having progression of his or her nearsightedness, you might consider treatment with atropine.  Atropine has been around for about 100 years.  It is quite safe (as a drop; don’t allow a bottle around a young child) and is well tolerated.  Personally I wish that my parents had put me on atropine as a child, but they were never given the choice.  I do not blame the ophthalmologist.  He was following the protocol at the time.  I ended up being a -10.00 myope.  To put this is perspective, on a scale of one to ten, this is a 9.5, a one in a thousand occurrence or less.

And it’s not simply about wearing glasses.  A very nearsighted eye is long, the term is axial length.  The eye simply becomes elongated.  This has ramifications.  If the eye is a simple -1.00 or -2.00, then no problem.  If the eye is over 6 diopters, then it is long.  The retina does not grow with the elongating eye; it has to stretch.  Very nearsighted eyes have increased risk for retinal detachments.  The retinas literally have to stretch to accommodate the increased length of the eye, pulling things apart.

If interested, give  us a call for a consultation.

© Richard Randolph 2012