Starting myopia control treatment for children at a young age halves the risk of rapid progression in those whose myopia is progressing fast, new research shows.
The study found that the ideal age is six to less-than-nine years for children to start wearing overnight orthokeratology contact lenses to control myopia.
Further, the study showed that older children, including adolescents, can also benefit from ortho-k slowing eye growth and significantly reducing myopia progression, if they showed rapid progression before treatment.
Study lead author Professor Pauline Cho from the Centre for Myopia Research at Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Optometry will present the study’s findings at the 16th International Cornea and Contact Lens Congress in Sydney in early September. The study has also been submitted to a journal for publication.
‘Childhood appears to be the best time for treatment; once a child has become myopic, control options should be considered,’ says Professor Cho.
‘Therefore, it would be prudent to consider commencing control treatment for myopic children as young as possible, especially if they have a history of fast progression because we cannot shorten the eyes once they have elongated.
‘Our study showed that myopia progression is fastest in younger myopic children aged six to less-than-nine years and that ortho-k treatment could reduce the relative risk of fast progression by about 50 per cent in this group.’
Professor Cho says ortho-k can help prevent fast progression of axial elongation, reducing the risk of developing high myopia which increases the chance of retinal complications. “There is now growing evidence of the effectiveness of ortho-k for myopia control in children.”
Her take home message is: ‘The prevalence of myopia in children is increasing worldwide and it is well recognised that the progression of myopia is faster in younger myopic children.
‘We still do not know when we should stop. In general, based on the COMET study in the US, progression of myopia stops about age 16, but further work is needed to show what happens when we stop ortho-k therapy.’
Professor Cho points out that in adults, ortho-k has also been successfully used for myopia correction, but not much has been published on myopia control.
‘Presumably, ortho-k could slow axial elongation in patients with adult-onset myopia. We could expect it to work, if used in the same way as for children—sleeping with lenses on for about eight hours every night,’ she said.
At Envision Optical we have been treating myopic Gold Coast and Tweed Heads patients with ortho-K for almost 15 years. We have found it to be a safe, reliable and effective treatment which gives clear everyday vision and significantly reduces myopia progression in patients, with many of our patients showing no progression in over 5 years. We have treated patients as young as 6 years old, and encourage all parents who are myopic to have their children’s eyes checked as a family history makes them up to 6 times more likely to become myopic. Fortunately stronger glasses every year is no longer the only option.