An increase in the diagnosis of myopia in children and teenagers in the U.S. as well as globally has led scientists and doctors to look for new ways to control myopia progression. Some studies even suggest that by the year 2025, half of the world’s population is estimated to have myopia*. Another study shows that being confined at home during COVID-19 greatly affected myopia progression among school-aged children**.
What is myopia (nearsightedness) and what causes it in children?
Simply, myopia is a refractive error in the eye which happens when the light is not focused on the retina properly, causing blurry vision of the objects in the distance for patients with this condition.
Environmental conditions may influence developing myopia, such as not spending enough time outdoors. However, myopia in children can be genetic. If either one of the parents has myopia, their children might also develop it. Myopia in children is usually diagnosed between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. During the adolescence period when the body is growing rapidly, myopia may as well progress more rapidly compared to later in life.
Options for correcting myopia
Currently, there is no “best method” that could be applied to all patients as an option to correct myopia. Myopia correction depends on the patient’s age, the overall health of the eyes, and lifestyle. We recommend discussing your child’s needs with your ophthalmologist and deciding on the option that may work the best for them together. Here are some of the most common options for myopia in children…
Eyeglasses and contact lenses
Eyeglasses and contact lenses are one of the most common ways to correct refractive errors in the eyes such as myopia. They adjust the patient’s vision so that they can see more clearly. After the healthcare provider diagnoses the patient, together they decide whether eyeglasses or contact lenses would be the best solution for the patient. In time, a prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses may change with the condition. Talk to your doctor about which option may be the right fit for your child’s needs, and don’t forget to follow up with regular ophthalmologist visits.
Low-dose atropine eye drops in controlling myopia progression
Atropine is a medication that is used for a variety of conditions. Most people may know about atropine eye drops from their visits to their eye doctors. It is commonly used during eye exams to dilate the pupil of the eye by relaxing the muscles, which allows doctors to diagnose patients more accurately.
Low-dose atropine, as low as 0.01% has emerged as an alternative option that may help slow down the progression of myopia in children and adolescents. As we have mentioned above, atropine dilates the pupils and temporarily paralyzes the focusing muscle inside of your eye. Studies show that when applied regularly, low-dose atropine eye drops may help with myopia progression in children and adolescents***.
Atropine eye drops are usually used once a day, at nighttime. Side effects can include stinging of the eye, and sensitivity reactions. With atropine as well as with any medication, it is important to observe how well your child tolerates the eye drops. Make sure to ask your doctor about possible side effects, and to report any concerns you might have.
About Valor Compounding Pharmacy
Valor Compounding Pharmacy™, Inc. is a multi-state licensed 503A facility housing both sterile and non-sterile laboratories, located in Berkeley, CA. Valor is a specialized pharmacy that makes custom medications to meet the unique needs of the individual patient. Our goal is to reinvent pharmacy from a reactive vendor to a proactive partner in patient health care. We do that by optimizing turnaround time, being data-driven, and reducing patient anxiety. Our focus is on non-sterile and sterile, hazardous and non-hazardous compounded medication, and we work with a network of providers, patients, health systems/institutions, and research scientists in multiple states in the United States.
*American Academy of Ophthalmology: https://www.aaojournal.org/article/s0161-6420(16)00025-7/fulltext
**JAMA Ophthalmology: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/2774808
***National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1771373/